Day 82: It’s -1 degree celsius and they want you to come outside. It’s OK, it’s worth it. Here’s why.
It’s Sint Maarten in The Netherlands and just in time for a cold spell. It’s below freezing and I’m going to stand outside. For hours.
Not only stand outside, but walk around the neighborhood.
Gloves, scarves, frost already forming on the leaves and car windows. In our quiet street there are bobbing lights heading this way and that. Back and forth, into houses and back out. If you listen closely, you can hear them.
This part of the Dutch Life series as our family experiences The Netherlands first hand after 16 years in the U.S.
They sing, they thank, the giggle and if you listen really closely, you can even hear wrappers opening and chewing.
Geef mij je lekkertjes en ga ik voorbij.
I’m admittedly a sucker for warm yellow street lights on frosty evenings especially if you throw in darling children singing songs. Some have practiced and some have even made up their own tunes altogether. They absolutely earn their candy.
The Saint Martin’s celebration is on November 11, or sometimes the night before, celebrated in some parts of Netherlands, Flanders, northern France, some German regions, Hungary and St. Maarten.
The tradition, as far as I now understand it having been schooled in it for the evening is that children carry lanterns around the neighborhood and for houses where there are lanterns burning, they knock on the door and sing songs. I don’t know if there’s any Voice of Holland critique or suggestions going on at some houses, but our house was pretty happy to have kids come by and sing songs I understood most of the words to.
Our boys, over the hill when it comes to lampionnetjes and singing sweet holiday songs, but they begrudgingly went along with it and learned a few words to a few of the songs and did manage to score a few treats along the way. Then it was quickly back inside to hot chocolate and radiators and … back outside to hear more and more kids who came by to sing.
I could think of worse things to do on a Friday night.
More on the festivities from Wikipedia:
St Maarten is not celebrated everywhere in the same way. In some places be marches organized, others are bonfires ignited. Generally, the lantern tour. This is most common in the Netherlands in the northern provinces and in North Holland (called chat). The children make lanterns or run beet (compare Jack-o’-lantern ) and go with the lights along the doors. There they sing special Saint Martin’s songs and in exchange sweets or fruit. Previously, the light was carried in a hollowed beet. While this is being done, its colorful, lanterns are most commonly made by the children. In the Netherlands, the lanterns are often made at the school, for example in the lesson manual. Today, the lanterns are often illuminated by batteries. Previously used a lot of foekepot to accompany the songs that were sung in the tour. The Saint Martin’s use was called “foekepotterij.