Advent calendar 5: Sinterklaasavond, ‘St Nicholas’ Eve’.
In the Netherlands, Sinter Klaas arrives by steamboat from Spain today, accompanied by his assistant Zwarte Piet, ‘Black Peter’, who has been recoloured and refigured in various ways in recent years to try to make him less offensive, but who remains very identifiably an African slave, circa 1600. Together, Sint and Piet distribute chocolate letters of the alphabet to good children.
Then, presumably, the saint flies westward across the Atlantic to New Amsterdam. In a Manhattan phone booth (if he can still find one) he removes his mitre, lays down his crook, and snips the crosses off his red and white robes, before emerging as Santa Claus.