Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Saint Martin's Day

The day is celebrated on the evening of November 11th (the day Saint Martin died) in some parts of the Netherlands, where he is known as Sint-Maarten. As soon it gets dark, children up to the age of 11 or 12 (primary school age) go door to door with hand-crafted lanterns made of hollowed-out sugar beet or, more recently, paper, singing songs such as "Sinte Sinte Maarten," hoping to receive candy in return, similar to Halloween. The songs are rewarded with candy.



In the past, poor people would visit farms on November 11 to get food for the winter. In the 1600s, the city held boat races on the river IJ. 400 to 500 light crafts, both rowing boats and sailboats, took part watched by of a vast crowd on the banks.

I grew up with St. Martins Day and was very surprised when we moved to Scheveningen nobody even knew about St. Martin, let alone celebrate it. There has been a recent revival of St. Martins Celebrations, until the Garden shops discovered the potential of Halloween.  Halloween is celebrated now as well in the Netherlands, we copy everything here. The garden centres that sell pumpkins make a huge big deal out of it. But there was already a tradition we have almost forgotten about: Saint Martin's Day.





8 comments:

  1. I hate to see old traditions go by the wayside, glad to see this may be coming back. Thanks for the lesson.

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    1. Dutch made easy, by Han S. van Meegeren, chapter 14296.

      Always nice to reminisce childhood memories.
      Thanks for reading,

      Han

      Delete
  2. Years ago, I worked with a girl out of our Netherlands office...don't remember the city...and she told us a bit about Saint Martin's Day when we celebrated Halloween. Thank you Han for giving more explanation...I love learning traditions from other cultures/countries.

    Hugs and Blessings...
    Cat

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    1. Funny about your Dutch colleague, in some parts of our tiny country it's still very much alive, in other parts non existant. It's quite charming this tradition.

      Thanks dor reading Cat,
      Han

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  3. Thanks for sharing Saint Martin's Day with us, Han. It sounds like tons of fun. I like the singing, armed with pretty lanterns before you are rewarded with candy. I think that I saw fruit in the video, which seemed well-received. If I handed out fresh fruit on Halloween, the kids in my neighbourhood would be upset. They would rather have sugary candy.

    Kids will be kids, as they say.

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    1. Giving fruit is not uncommon here. Kids in most schools are not allowed to treat candy on their birthday celebration. So fruit is not strange here.
      But I'm sure the kids like candy better

      Thanks for your comment, girl with the naughty name,
      Han

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  4. I know about St. Martin. He comes on a white horse, because at this time we can get first snow.
    In Sweden St. Martin , or we call him Mårten , is celebrerad by eating a goose.
    St. Martin is best know in Cathiluc countries, because this day starts 40 days fast before Christmas .
    Thank you , Han, I didn't know you have St. Martin in Holland too.
    ML

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    1. We call him Sint Maarten in the Netherlands. And you are right about the catholic tradition, but sadly the celebration is still very dependent on the region you live in.

      Thanks for your comment, Mona Lisa,
      Han

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