Ok, sure, it's July, and the last thing on your mind is broadening your...uh...mind...with exposure to international holiday traditions - I get it. However, this particular post was deemed by the powers that be* too controversial to post back in December, so all my hard work and sparkling wit got shelved, its radiance cloaked all these long months.
So what changed?
Well, that's a long story. One involving too many mango mojitos, a Chuck marathon, and a malfunctioning alarm clock. (Ok, so maybe it's not that long of a story...)
But enough intro: you guys ready to have those minds broadened? I promise it will only sting a little.
*meaning me, John, and the cat
In the Netherlands Santa Claus (called Sinterklaas) doesn't have elves for sidekicks; he has Zwarte Piet (meaning "Black Pete"). Zwarte Piet is usually played by a white guy in blackface makeup, a curly black wig, and big gold hoop earrings. (I am SO not making this up.)
Here's a reference photo from Wikipedia:
Zwarte shows up in cake form quite a lot, too, and in less than flattering ways:
OH, so it's soot! Ok, I get it. And you're right: this does look a lot like Bert the chimney sweep:
This one found by Wouter T. is probably the most wreckish; it looks like the remains of a melting muppet:
They're little cakes called "Africancitos", or "little black men". With bows on their heads. I don't think they're a holiday treat, though, so you can enjoy your little-black-men cake heads any time of the year. "Great for parties!"
(Yes, I've officially crossed the line from horrified disbelief into horrified humor. It's more fun over here - won't you join me?)
To those of you offended by all this, you should know that Zwarte Piet was not intended to be offensive. (Argentina, you're on your own.) And to those of you who see nothing wrong with outdated and racially insensitive traditions, you should take a look at this poster: