Dutch retailer Albert Heijn is getting ready for the festival of St. Nicholas - the original Santa Klaus - on 5 December.
From this week on, the traditional range of St. Nicholas-themed foodstuffs and merchandise will be available from AH shops nationwide.
Traditionally, the festival folklore refers to (and depicts) the Saint's personal aide(s) as 'Black Pete(s)'. This stereotyping has become a source of irritation for some Dutch citizens, who are finding the racist undertones incompatible with a festival, promising to be a fun time for children from all backgrounds.
In answer to increasing calls for retiring 'Black Pete' altogether, last year Albert Heijn opted for providing its customers with a choice, offering St. Nicholas products with, or without images of Black Pete. This 'each to his own' policy is continued this year.
The company has defended its refusal to do away with the controversial references or images altogether, stating that while it regrets that some might find these elements hurtful or annoying, others appreciate them as part of the folklore.
© 2016 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Martha Sparrius. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.