The night of the lanterns

Today is the 11th of November and the day a lot of children here in Holland celebrate Sint Maarten and walk past the doors showing their beautiful homemade lanterns and singing joyful songs for candy.

I think it’s a cute little tradition we have here in Holland and we have celebrated it with the girls since we moved here to Heiloo, which is now 11 years.

The girls really love this little tradition and have every year collected so much candy that you hardly can’t believe it. Really not good at all with so much candy for the children. We use to store most of it and then give it to them little by little. Now the girls are too old to walk past the doors, but still, they love the tradition and now fight about who is going to stand by the door to give out the candy.

Standing by the door

This year it’s the youngest Emmelie which is going to stand by the door, and she is going to do it with one of her friends. Emmelie is very fund of young children and is really looking forward to see all the kids stopping by.

I also love this festival and always love to give the children an extra little experience when they come to our door. It all starts with spooky mummy candle jars on the path to our front door. When the door opens our hallway is full of candle’s and cosy lights and from the ceiling, I hang some extra paper lantern.

Mummy Candle jars


The candy we give away we also try to present as nicely as possible. This year Emmelie and I made some spooky lollypop’s. Halloween has just been around and we haven’t left that theme quite yet. It goes very well with the Sint Maarten festival as long as you don’t make it scary.

A bowl of ghost lollypops

The story about Sint Maarten?

The St. Martin festival is celebrated on November 11, or sometimes the night before, in some regions of Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, some German-speaking regions, Portugal, Hungary and on the island of Sint Maarten.

There is a lot of speculation about the history of this festival. It’s often assumed that the festival goes back to a German winter festival, but a purely ecclesiastical origin is also possible. What is clear is that the development into a general folk festival, celebrated by all denominations, is rather recent.

Sint Maarten is not celebrated in the same way everywhere. Parades are organized in some places and bonfires are ignited in others. General is the lantern tour. This is most prevalent in the Netherlands in the northern provinces and North-Holland.

The children make lanterns from a turnip or sugar beet (compare Jack-o’-lantern) or a pumpkin and go with the lights past the doors. There they sing special Saint Martin songs and get candy or fruit in exchange.


Colourful lanterns

Colourful lanterns made by the children are also used and very common. In the Netherlands, lanterns are often made during school hours. Particularly in free school education, St. Maarten is an annual celebration with hollowed-out tubers or pumpkins and with tea lights. Nowadays, the lanterns elsewhere are often illuminated with the help of batteries. Under the influence of Halloween, some children now also go dressed up past the doors.

Sint Maarten songs

There are countless Saint Martin songs. Especially in the Netherlands, there is a growing repertoire. Many songs have a humorous charge, although there are also old charm songs. Some songs are found in the entire language area, such as St. Maarten, others are only found in a small number of villages. The songs are in a long oral tradition. The oldest known Saint Martin song is the following:

Stoockt vier, maeckt vier:
Sinte Marten komt hier
Met syne bloote armen
Hij soude hem gheerne warmen?

The rules of the songs are still to be found in various existing Sint-Maartens songs. Also for other lyrics, they are very old, as can be seen from the large distribution thereof.

Ghost lollypops

I wish all the small children out there a joyfull evening tonight with beautiful lanterns and funny songs. 

Do you celebrate Sint Maarten? I would love to hear how.

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