Low-key arrival for St. Nicholas amid Dutch restrictions

Low-key arrival for St. Nicholas amid Dutch restrictions

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Saint Nicholas, the gift-bearing patron saint of children, arrived in the Netherlands on Saturday amid a partial coronavirus lockdown that forced the cancellation of celebrations in many towns and cities.

The Dutch celebrate what they call Sinterklaas on Dec. 5 by giving gifts to children, but the saint arrives – legend has it – in the country weeks earlier in what is usually a nationwide party.

The celebrations have in recent years seen protests by activists against Sinterklaas’ helper, Black Pete, who is often portrayed by white people in blackface makeup. Opponents call the character a racist caricature, while supporters argue he is a harmless children’s figure and part of Dutch tradition.

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A nationally televised arrival celebration went ahead Saturday without the usual crowds of thousands of children and their parents amid a partial lockdown in the Netherlands aimed at reining in coronavirus infections.

Other towns and cities were holding online events and at

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