Michiel Kerbosch as Wegwijspiet (bottom left) on a DVD/CD cover

Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is a fictional character in Dutch folklore. Every year, Sinterklaas ("St. Nicholas") travels by boat from Spain to the Netherlands so that he can give presents to children on the eve of his name-day, or December 5th. Traditionally he is accompanied by a helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), who has a black face and wears colorful Moorish clothes with a large white ruffled collar.

In a 1987 Sesamstraat episode, Pino learned from Gerda that calling her and other black people "Zwarte Piet" is offensive. (YouTube) However, Zwarte Piet continued to appear on many episodes, DVDs, holiday specials, and albums such as Hoor Wie Klopt Daar Kinderen.

Zwarte Pieten

Over the years, additional nameless Pieten were added as his helpers, similar to Santa's elves. In the 1980s, Bram van der Vlugt, who played Sinterklaas for 25 years, started naming these Pieten to indicate their specific duties.

  • Ballonnenpiet (Balloon Pete), played by Peter Lusse, gave Sinterklaas balloons for his name-day the first year he appeared on TV.
  • Hoofdpiet (Head Pete), played by Frits Lambrechts, Erik de Vogel and Erik van Muiswinkel in succession, is the leader of the group of 'Pieten' (Petes).
  • Sorrypiet (Sorry Pete), played by Marc-Marie Huijbregts, makes many mistakes and is constantly apologizing.
  • Wegwijspiet (Navigation Pete), played by Michiel Kerbosch, has a map and directs Sinterklaas to the many towns and cities he visits.
  • Wellespiet (Did Too Pete), played by Dick van den Toorn.
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