Saint Martin

No, not that Franco-Dutch Caribbean island. I’m talking about something else. Recently, some of you were talking about trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating is not a very common custom in the Netherlands, but in certain parts of the country, we do have something similar: Saint Martin or Saint Martin’s day, which is today, November 11. On this evening, children go door-to-door singing short Saint Martin’s songs while carrying lanterns, which they usually made in school. In return they get candy. Of course, this was something I really enjoyed when I was a child. (I’m glad I didn’t have diabetes back then!)
As with many traditions, there’s much debate about the origins of Saint Martin. The story goes that St. Martin, who was a soldier, on a cold day cut his cloak in half to share it with a beggar, which is why he became the patron saint of beggars. His burial day became a feast celebrated by the poor, which in the 20s and 30s of last century changed into a tradition celebrated by all children.
Saint Martin’s songs, by the way, are short songs that don’t make much sense. Here are some examples:

Saint Martin, Saint Martin,
Cows have tails
Girls wear skirts
Here comes St. Martin

November 11 is the day
my little light, my little light-
November 11 is the day
my little light may burn

Or a popular parody (docslotnick might like this :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ) :
November 12 is the day
the dentist, the dentist-
November 12 is the day
the dentist may drill


Wow! So interesting! Thanks for sharing.

It’s one of those things I love about FUD - learning about different cultural celebrations (like this thread: Yom Kippur, Fasting, T1D and UNLIMITED repentance).

Are there any costume wearing days in the Netherlands?


People celebrate carnival in the originally Catholic southern provinces, but other than that I can’t think of any costume wearing days. Wearing orange on King’s day or during soccer tournaments like the World Cup is the closest people get to wearing costumes.

Speaking of the Catholic south, Saint Martin, which may sound Catholic, is not at all confined to the south, but perhaps even more popular in the more protestant north.

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I’ve been there for World Cup when Netherlands was involved until close to the finals - 2014 I think. The Orange was impressive. :slight_smile:


This was such a nice video! So similar to trick or treat!

It did remind mind a bit of caroling.

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In 2014 the team unexpectedly got to the semi-finals, but it was kind of the last gasp of that team. They haven’t participated in any tournament since, as they failed to qualify for both the European Cup of 2016 and the upcoming World Cup in 2018. Most of the 2014 team will have retired in 2020, the next opportunity to participate in a tournament.