If you think once Halloween is over, you are done with all this sweet/candy business, I am going to disappoint you…as we live in a part of Holland where, on the 11th November, Dutch children celebrate Sint-Maarten which is about collecting treats from around your neighbourhood.
People usually leave an outdoor light or candle if they wish to be part of the celebration. In other words, if you forget to buy sweets on the day, don’t leave your outdoor light on…and if you are going round the neighbourhood with your kids, avoid the houses that have no outside light or candle! And unless you do the Halloween trick of turning off all the lights and pretending you're not home and live in the dark for a few hours, I am afraid you'll probably have to join in, either by taking your kids out for door to door sweet collections or by opening your door and treating the kids that come and sing for you…either way, there is no escape, you either choose to be in…or out!
So if you decide to Stay in and wish to be part of Sint-Maarten celebrations:
-Leave a visible burning candle/light outside.
-be prepared to open your door every 5 minutes from 17.30 until 20.30
- Have some treats ready, such as, sweets in sealed packets, raisins, chocolates etc…as small groups of children will expect to be given one sweet each to add to their collection!
-Brush up your Dutch as you might need to encourage or congratulate them for their singing…try
'Heel mooi gezongen, hoor!' - 'lovely singing'
'Leuk! Goed gedaan!' - 'lovely, well done!'
-Enjoy the sight of happy glowing faces as kids receive their treat and hopefully say “dank u wel”
If you decide to be out and about with your kids:
-Make or buy a lantern (lampion). Traditionally, children are supposed to make their own but you can take shortcuts and go safe by buying them from Hema, AH, Blocker, to name but a few places. They are often made out of paper, take various shapes and you can buy the light for around 1 euro: it looks a bit like a mini fishing rod with a bulb on the end…and don’t forget to put batteries and to have spare ones one the day…just in case!
-Have a bag or basket ready for the collection (and check your dental care insurance cover!!)
-make sure they know one or 2 songs although if you are lucky they will have learnt it at school or playgroup…
- Enjoy the lovely magical atmosphere as groups of children parade through the neighbourhood with their lanterns
Sint Maarten Sint Maarten
"Sint Maarten Sint Maarten
De koeien hebben staarten
De meisjes hebben rokjes aan
Daar komt Sint Martinus aan"
11 november is de dag
"11 november is de dag
dat mijn lichtje,
dat mijn lichtje.
11 november is de dag, dat mijn lichtje schijnen mag"
Find out more on the origins of Sint – Maarten on:
And yes, recycled milk cartons make a great impression of Amsterdam houses and make a great lantern! Be creative and Enjoy this lovely Dutch tradition!