Spread the Christmas cheer... with cloning!

Santa has been cloned.

Holland. November. 2006.
Walking through Utrecht, one of the bigger little cities of the Netherlands. Christmas decorations hang normally, expectedly, for this time of year. Christmas trees. Strings of decorative lights holding hands between lamp-posts. Tinsel in shop windows. And pictures of the dangerously obese geriatric whose incessant bronchial wheeze makes his face red and puffy - the father of all this. Or not.

Santa Claus looks different.

He’s looking more trim. Much trimmer. Could it be due to a Dutch diet of bread and cheese? White hair. White beard. Beard is more tightly coiled... like pubic hair. It’s a long beard... long pubic hair.

No more thick black belt. The belt which acts as a girdle - keeping his stomach in - and serves as a weight-belt - to stop his hernia from popping out. He’s got a new wardrobe - a heavy red cloak with gold trimming over a white gown. And his hat! His hat is more… erect. It defies gravity - like a bishop’s hat. And Santa must’ve come early to Santa, cos he’s got flashy jewellery. A chunky, precious-stone, gold ring and a tall, golden staff with a spiralled top.

Wait a minute…[squint]… [focus]… that’s not Santa Claus! It’s Sinterklaas!

Sinterklaas… who lives in Spain and sails to Holland by steamboat every November with his white horse, Amerigo, and his black helper slaves. His arrival is televised. And on the 5th December, he rides house to house, rooftop to rooftop, delivering presents… as his slaves walk.At first glance, he looks just like the traditional Santa Claus – the one sponsored by Coca Cola - wearing the red & white team colours, with white hair, white beard, candy in one back pocket, rope and mace in the other.

His bishop’s hat bears a cross embroidered in gold, indicating that this Sinterklaas is clearly Christian. But although he may be a good role model for Christianity and generosity and free love between old men and young children, his possession of slaves does nothing for the promotion of equal rights and anti-racism.
The Zwarte Pieten, or Black Petes, are his helpers… and they are deep black - like the bottom of the ocean on a moonless night. They are his African slaves. Sinterklaas the bigot.

He carries with him a thick book of names and behaviour. Good children get a present. If they’ve been bad, one of Sinterklaas’ slaves will whip and beat them with a bundle of dry sticks. Sinterklaas delivers a racist undertone with his gifts: Beware the black man.

For the sake of political correctness, some parents tell their children that Piet is blackened from chimney soot – the chimney obviously still being the most practical way to deliver presents (or stick-beatings). Others suggest it’s due to constant exposure to the Spanish hot sun… which of course takes the definition of "sun burn" to a whole new level. Sinterklaas’ flesh is conspicuously pasty white by comparison, but then he has a canvass of wrinkles indicating years of sun-damage.

I guess the irony of being whipped by a slave is preferable than the eastern European version of the Christmas tradition, where St. Nicholas travels door-to-door with the devil. St.Nicholas delivers presents to the good; the devil abducts the bad, taking them away in chains. This happened to my friend’s father. Remember, Santa is simply an anagram of Satan.

And you all thought Santa Claus delivered presents to all the world’s children in one night? Ha!… he has help. Sinterklaas services parts of western Europe, namely Belgium and the Netherlands. St. Nicholas works eastern Europe - Germany, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. And both these guys do it three weeks early on the 5th December. So much for the magic of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you all. I hope Sinterklaas, St. Nicholas or Satan Claus graces your chimneys and empty shoes.