World Music Advent Calendar - December 19th
Updated: Jan 21
HOLLAND: Een Heel Gelukkig Kerstfeest - De Toppers
Though this song is full of festive fun, it serves to remind us of Dutch Christmas and thus poses questions about the way in which Christmas is celebrated in The Netherlands today. Meaning ‘A Very Merry Christmas’, Een Heel Gelukkig Kerstfeest is an old-fashioned Christmas song that paints the idyllic picture of the season and wishes for peace and goodwill to all, that was covered by Dutch supergroup De Toppers in 2016. The iconic Euro-pop trio, whose popularity is vast, embody the spirit of Christmas with this epic festive tune. However, one of their former members, Gordon Heuckeroth, was embroiled in a racism scandal, which seems appropriate when one considers the major controversy that surrounds Dutch Christmas – Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). Whilst Holland is where the idea of Santa Claus as we know him today arise from, and thus been the root of much joy and happiness spread across the world, one can’t help but why this famously tolerant nation, seem to abandon their liberal values each year dressing up in blackface to perform the character of Zwarte Piet. The character is deemed to be subservient and is forced to hand out sweets reinforces disturbing racial stereotypes. There is evidence that the tide is changing. Many schools in the Netherlands have changed him into 'Sooty Peter', where he appears without the outrageous wig and red lipstick, and only has smudges of black soot on his face, as if he has been up a chimney. In addition, as there has been a shift in support for Zwarte Piet since the George Floyd protests earlier this year. Whilst in 2018 between 80-88% of the Dutch public did not perceive Zwarte Piet as racist, according to a survey this year the number of people who support the traditional appearance of the character dropped to 47%. Hopefully, this issue can soon be resolved and the Dutch public can celebrate Christmas by dancing to De Toppers instead.