Sint Maarten: The Dutch version of Halloween

Sint Maarten: The Dutch version of Halloween

If you live in the Netherlands, you will notice that Halloween is not a popular celebration in the country. Less children are dressed up in horror or spooky outfits and do not go for trick and treats during the night of 31st of October. Yet most Dutch go for party during Halloween. Interestingly, the Dutch celebrates Sint Maarten (St. Martin in English) every 11th of November, which is an equivalent of Halloween. Sint Maarten is celebrated in countries such as Germany, Belgium, North of France, and the Netherlands (mostly in the northern part of the country such as Groningen, Noord Holland, Drenthe, and Friesland). Both Halloween and Sint Maarten are part of Catholic tradition, though it is unclear why only Sint Maarten became popular in the Netherlands.

Celebrating Sint Maarten at home every 11th of November.

Origin of Sint Maarten celebration

The name of St. Maarten is originated from St. Martin of Tours, the 3rd bishop of Tours, France. St. Martin is a Roman soldier originally from Hungary, who is known for cutting his cloak into two and gave half of it to a beggar who was freezing in the winter. Thus, he is considered as the patron saint of the poor. Giving only half of his cloak is a symbolism of rich giving to the poor. This also means that you do not have to give everything, but you share them. The Sint Maarten celebration also marks the end of autumn and beginning of winter. In the Netherlands, St. Maarten is celebrated before another popular children celebration comes in, which is Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Christmas). Check out my blog for my information about this: What makes the Dutch Christmas special?

Celebrating Sint Maarten

What happens during Sint Maarten celebration? Here, the children visit houses door-to-door, with their lanterns often made of carved pumpkins, turnips, or even brightly decorated papers. Most schools in the Netherlands also have their own celebration of Sint Maarten. Children sing songs or recite poems and are given sweet treats for rewards (almost similar to the Halloween in American celebration, yet in a less commercialized way). Do you want to practice Sint Maarten songs, as well as your Dutch? Below are somepopular Sint Maarten song among children in the Netherlands:

11 November is de dag:

Elf november is de dag (November 11 is the day)

Dat mijn lichtje (That my light)

Dat mijn lichtje (That my light)

Elf november is de dag (November 11 is the day)

Dat mijn lichtje branden mag (That my light can burn)

Twaalf november is de dag (November 12 is the day)

Dat ik mag snoepen (That I can snack)

Dat ik mag snoepen (That I can snack)

Twaalf november is de dag (November 12 is the day)

dat ik mag snoepen de hele dag (That I can snack all day)

Sinte Sinte Maarten:

Sinte, Sinte Maarten 

De koeien hebben staarten (The cows have tails)

De meisjes hebben rokjes aan (The girls are wearing skirts) 

Daar komt Sinte Maarten aan (There comes Sinte Maarten)

Sint Maarten wat is het koud (‘St. Martin, it is so cold’)

geef me een turfje of wat hout (‘give me some peat or wood’)

geef me een half centje (‘give me a half cent’)

dan ben je m’n beste ventje (‘and you’ll be my best friend’)

geef me een appel of een peer (‘give me an apple or a pear’)

dan kom ik het hele jaar niet meer (‘and you won’t see me again all year’)

Here is another traditional Sint-Maarten song:

Sinte Maarten krikske vuur, (St. Martin, make a cherry wood fire)

Leg de pannenkoeken op het vuur. (and put the pancakes on)

We hebben al zo lang gelopen (We’ve been walking for so long)

Nergens gaan de deuren open (and nobody’s opened their door)

Geef ons een pannekoek uit de pan. (give us a pancake hot from the pan)

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