Light your lanterns, it's St Martin's night!

11th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

St Martin's day is celebrated in the evening of 11 November in Flanders, parts of the Netherlands and most areas of Germany and Austria.

 

St Martin's day is celebrated in the evening of 11 November in Flanders, parts of the Netherlands – primarily the southern and north-western parts – and most areas of Germany and Austria.

Children go from door to door carrying paper lanterns and sing traditional songs about Sint Maarten to the householders in return for sweets and goodies, a custom which can be likened somewhat to the American tradition of  'trick or treat' at Halloween. 

"Children expect sweets now," a Dutch colleague told me, remembering the disgust registering on young faces as he handed out tangerines after the children had enthusiastically gone through their song repertoire.

 

If you wish for a quiet night or your supply of goodies runs out, turn off your lights or to move to the non-street side of the house. The children will eventually stop ringing the bell.

In the eastern part of the Belgian province of West-Flanders, especially around Ypres, children receive presents from St Martin on 11 November instead of from Saint Nicholas on 6 December, or Santa Claus on December 25. St Martin, in the Flemish tradition, is also helped by a Zwarte Piet.

Sint Maarten in Monschau, Germany.

Who was St Martin?

Saint Martinus or Martin of Tours, was originally a Roman soldier. He was baptized in adulthood, became a monk and was known as a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. Legend has it that he once tore his cloak in half  and gave it to a begger to keep him from dying of cold during a snowstorm.

 

Sint Maarten liedjes (songs)

 

SinteMaarten MikMak

SinteMaarten MikMak,
Mijn moeder is een dikzak,
Mijn vader is een dunnetje,
Geef m' een pepermunnetje!

For more Sint Maarten songs Click here

 

Expatica [NG]

 

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