In the US, we complain every year that Christmas starts earlier and earlier - sometimes even pre-empting Halloween! Christmas started this weekend in Amsterdam when Sinterklaas and Swarte Piets all came to town on a boat from Spain to hang out in Amsterdam.
The most disturbing thing for this American girl is Swarte Piet - Santa's little helper who is a White man dressed in black face who is traditionally a Moor from Spain who helps Sinterklaas. Watching hundreds of men running around in blackface and small children dressed up in blackface this weekend was quite interesting.
At one point, I was about to cross the big street near my apartment and there was a huge police escort and a city bus covered in balloons flying down the street. When I looked inside, it was filled with tens of Swarte Piets!
Anyway, for your amusement, some photos of Sinterclause coming to Amsterdam and then after this, a small story by David Sedaris about Christmas in Amsterdam.