If you are not Dutch and haven't lived here for very long then you may find all the references to Sint Maarten on the 11th of November a bit confusing. Simone Davies explains...
On 11 November the Dutch celebrate Sint Maarten's day. Children knock on neighborhood doors to sing a song and receive a piece of candy (like at Halloween). The children all make their own lanterns and hang them from a lampionstokje (a lantern stick, which has a little lightbulb on the end). Traditionally, homes that are participating will leave a lit candle by the front door. You can always visit the police station – they like the children coming in to sing to them.
There is also a lovely lantern parade in Vondelpark each year, starting at 6:00pm at the Koninginneweg entrance. I think it is very pretty and the kids enjoy walking through the dark. It is best to get there early as they leave very punctually, and try to get near the front of the group near the band.
What You Need to Know
Lampionstokjes are sold at Blokker, Hema and some hardware stores. They often sell out before the day so it is a good idea to buy one early. I have once tried looking on the day and there were none left to be found! You can also buy lanterns from these shops too if you have not made one.
Warning: if it rains on Sint Maarten, you come home with one very soggy lantern (and child). Best to be prepared.
And here are two of the traditional songs to practise for the big night:
Elf november is de dag Dat mijn lichtje
Dat mijn lichtje
Elf November is de dag
Dat mijn lichtije branden mag
Sinte, sinte Maarten
De koeien hebben starten
De meisjes hebben rokjes aan
Daar komt sinte Maarten aan
More information on Sint Maarten.
Simone Davies is the owner and directress of Jacaranda Montessori Playgroup. As well as being a mama of 2 children, Simone provides a Montessori environment for parents and babies and also hosts courses and workshops.