Revisiting St Nick
I realise I haven’t replied to any comments for a while.
Be assured I do read them all. There is some debate around the date on which Sinterklaas arrives.
My Belgian friends tell me it is the 6th, which is Saint Nicholas' feast day. But many Dutch correspondents say he comes on the 5th.
Several of you point out the picture is of Santa Claus, not Sinterklaas. You are right, he happened to be on display at the ice rink in Amsterdam where my children were skating, so I thought I would snap him to go along with the Black Peters in the toy shop window.
I can’t remember where I first saw his horse being equated with Odin’s steed Sleipnir but this is one reference.
I wish you all good luck in searching for the “real story” but I think by the nature of myth one can expect a degree of inexactitude and icon-merging.
I rather agree with those who question whether it is racist to associate evil with darkness: I would be really surprised if cultures in Africa didn’t do so as well.
My point wasn’t urging some simplistic purging of language and imagery, but to highlight how the intertwining of several different traditions can create a layered meaning.
Political correctness? Well, it is a term I would love to explore one day, but it is often used by both sides as a fireblanket on debate, which I loathe.
There are plenty of comments of the “just get over it” type, but there are also those from people who do feel hurt and offended.