December 27, 2021
St Martin's Day, the lights in the Netherlands
Yesterday a very important celebration took place in the Netherlands. Have you heard about St Martin's Day, the lights in the Netherlands, and the children singing with their lanterns every 11th of November?
Every 11th of November, Dutch children go out on the streets with lighted paper lanterns to sing songs. They go knocking from door to door in the hope of receiving sweets.
Many houses in the Netherlands use lanterns that they light and place outside their garden to commemorate this date.
How did this celebration come about?
The feast of St. Martin (in Dutch Sint Maarten) is celebrated every 11 November - usually on the eve - in parts of Flanders and the Netherlands, on the occasion of the Catholic feast of St. Martin of Tours, although its origins are probably pre-Christian.
It began as a church festival. Later, people started visiting farms to get food for the winter on 11 November (the day St. Martin died). Eventually, it became a children's celebration. Although this celebration is often compared to Halloween, it is actually very different in both its history and traditions.
In the Netherlands, the holiday has spread in popular culture beyond its religious origin and is celebrated independently of one's religious beliefs.
The main celebration takes place at dusk when children of different ages go from house to house carrying paper lanterns. At the door of each house, the children perform a short song typical of the festival (the lyrics vary depending on the region or time of year) and are rewarded by the inhabitants of the house with sweets or fruit.
So now you know a bit more about a beautiful tradition and celebration here in our new home in the Netherlands.