St Martin’s Day

Today, 11 November, is St Martin’s Day. Traditionally children in Amsterdam go door to door, and they’ll sing a song. At the end of the song you’re supposed to give them sweets.The song is odd, and really doesn’t have much to do with St Martin,

Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten,
De koeien hebben staarten,
De meisjes hebben rokjes aan,
Daar komt Sint Martinus aan!

Which translates as Saint Martin, Saint Martin, the cows have tails, the girls are wearing skirts, Here comes St Martin!)

My first year living in Amsterdam I was completely unprepared for the whole thing. I opened the door, and listened to the song. I had no candy/sweets/chocolate in the house. So I gave the kids strawberries. The look on the kid’s faces was pure disappointment, and the mothers were busy prodding them and prompting “Say thank you to the lady”.

The following year I was prepared, I had a big dish of candies and chocolates. I could hear children singing around the neighbourhood. But the word was out, no-one came to my door.

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3 thoughts on “St Martin’s Day

  1. Well, if that’s the only song they know they don’t even deserve sweets! 😉

    Hope you got a better score of kids this year though. They don’t celebrate it at all here which is a shame I think. I loved going through the streets with a home-made lantern when I was a kid!

  2. Someone said it was only Amsterdam and north. This year we were coming home just as the kids were finishing. We had to sneak inside, because this year I’m not really prepared – again!

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