First, get out and take a walk or a bike ride. If you stay inside, you could be 
anywhere, right?
Now that you're out, do you see gangs of brightly dressed people in black face 
makeup walking around? Hundreds of them? OK, you're in Leiden.
For those of you who have never experienced the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas 
and his Zwarte Piet companions, it sounds kinda weird. And it probably is, but 
the blackface has been part of the tradition since medieval periods, and people 
aren't about to change it now, even though there have been protests about it 
for "racist" reasons.
Anyway, it's a lot of fun. Sinterklaas himself arrived yesterday a boat, while 
thousands of parents and their kids cheered his arrival. The Zwarte Piets are 
his helpers, sorta like elves but with more clought. If a kid has been good, 
the Zwarte Piets give them a pepper cookie. If they've been bad, theoretically 
the Zwarte Piets get to throw the kid into a big sack and take him off to 
Spain. Don't ask me what happens to the bad kids once they get there...I've 
never wanted to know.
sinterklaas leiden 2014 - Google Search

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Leiden 502 × 315 - 123k - jpg vandaagopstap.nl Huis van Sinterklaas in Leiden 
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