Starting of here with some basic information about the different companions of Saint Nicholas in various parts of Europe. The companion is often known as the dark or threatening companion. This dark figure represents different things: Winter, Night, Dark stemming from pagan history. In christian times also Evil was associated with this companion by the church, but he wasn't: pagan is not an equivalent of Evil!. It is furthermore very important not to see him as the evil one but essentially as the one to bring the evil to the surface and punish it so good can come forth. Saint Nicholas represents Summer, Day, Light and Good. This is visible in his long white hair and beard and his white Alb. (Albe in Dutch) In essence Sint and Black Pete can be played by everyone who wishes to play them regardless of their own skincolour. The white and black Sint and Black Pete symbolize doesn't have anything to do with skincolour even though Black Pete puts soot on his face. This soot is a cheap form of masquerade as old as humanity and this is not limited to Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). It's use is known from other rituals in the Netherlands as well.
Pere Fouettard from France (with a flog, also called Vader Geselaar (Father Flogging) in Belgium)
1944 Slovenian Saint Nicholas and his dark helper, Krampus, with a curly wig and horns on his head! Notice the collar. Here lie similarities to Black Pete. We see the black face, a basket (bag). The saint is also accompanied by an angel.
Saint Nicholas and Krampus visit a Viennese home (1896 illustration)
Knecht Ruprecht, Germany (dark face and bag)
Another Nikolaus und Ruprecht figure
Gruss vom Krampus u Nikolo (chain (Nikolo seems to carry the bag here. ;) )
Krampus or a type of Percht taking children along in his basket and on his switch.
Hans Trapp from the Elzas (a German/French area in France close to the German border.) (dark face, bag, chain and a switch)
Kleeschen an Hausecker from Luxembourg (dark face, switch, bag and chain)
Nikolaus und Knecht Ruprecht (dark face, switch (and a bell) )
Mikula's and Krampus (dark face, switch, chain)
Hans Muff and Nikolaus (dark face)
In the Elzas the Christchild is accompanied by Hans Trapp. He has a black face, a long beard and a switch to use on naughty kids. (The Christchild is carrying the basket.)
Krampus with basket with kids, chain, dark face, switch.
Schmutzli from Switzerland. (Dark face and hands and a bag.)