Halloween and Sint Maarten in the Netherlands: A Spooky Spectacle and a Sweet Tradition

by Carol Ranas
7 minutes read

Halloween and Sint Maarten are two distinct but fascinating celebrations that hold a special place in Dutch culture. While Halloween is a globally recognized spooky holiday, Sint Maarten is a cherished Dutch tradition with its unique charm. In this blog post, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these two celebrations and share some interesting tidbits that make them so intriguing.

Halloween and Sint Maarten Be Carol

Halloween in the Netherlands

Halloween, which falls on October 31st, has been gaining popularity in the Netherlands, thanks to global cultural influences. The Dutch have embraced this ghostly holiday with open arms, and you can find many spooky decorations, costume parties, and pumpkin carving events across the country. Here are some key aspects of Halloween in the Netherlands:

Costumes and Trick-or-Treating

Much like in other countries, Dutch children nowadays love to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating, knocking on doors in their neighborhoods to collect candy. It’s an exciting night for young and old alike. You may need to do some research and ask around which neighborhood participates as these are not the norm in the whole country. 
Halloween and Sint Maarten Be Carol

Pumpkin Carving 

Pumpkin carving has been gaining traction in the Netherlands. Families gather to carve intricate designs into pumpkins, turning them into eerie lanterns to decorate their homes. Supermarkets now carry whole pumpkins in store for this, and there are also a few farms that have adapted it as well. You can research some farms that transform into pumpkin patches to welcome autumn and the spooky season. You will spot some houses with pumpkins on their doorstep as part of the autumn decorations. 
Halloween and Sint Maarten Be Carol

Halloween Decorations and Parties
The Dutch love parties and bigger Dutch cities often host Halloween parties, allowing people to enjoy spooky-themed events. Some Dutch households and businesses eagerly adorn their spaces with cobwebs, skeletons, witches, and jack-o’-lanterns to create a spooky atmosphere. Wallibi annually prepares for the Halloween Spooky Nights where they deck the whole park with Halloween decorations.
Halloween Treats
Special Halloween treats, like spooky-shaped cookies and cupcakes, are available and enjoyed during this time. Halloween-themed candies can be seen in supermarkets (maybe not too distinct like the kruidnoten and Sinterklaas treats that are rampant as early as September). 

Sint Maarten in the Netherlands

Sint Maarten, celebrated on November 11th, has its roots in Dutch culture and is a delightful holiday for children. Unlike Halloween, which has global origins, Sint Maarten is unique to the Netherlands. Here’s what makes it special:

Lantern Processions 

Sint Maarten is also known as St. Martin’s Day, and it’s a celebration of light. Children create colorful paper lanterns and participate in lantern processions. In some regions, they sing traditional Sint Maarten songs while carrying their lanterns. Many Dutch children look forward to crafting their lanterns and learning the traditional Sint Maarten songs in school.

Halloween and Sint Maarten Be Carol

Sweet Treats

Similar to Halloween, children go door to door, but instead of saying “trick or treat,” they sing Sint Maarten songs and receive small gifts or sweets. Typically, these sweets include gingerbread cookies, chocolates, mandarines and marzipan.
Halloween and Sint Maarten Be Carol

Historical Significance

Sint Maarten has historical roots, dating back to the legend of Saint Martin, who shared his warm coat with a beggar. This act of kindness is celebrated through the sharing of sweets and gifts. It is also fitting as World Kindness Day is also celebrated around the same date. Let me share the video of our first Sint Maarten experience in our neighbourhood:

@carolranas Sint Maarten is a Dutch tradition that we gladly experienced, now that we live in a small village.. #teamperez #sintmaarten #fyp #becarol #zandvoort ♬ Sinte Sinte Maarten – Sint Maarten

In conclusion, both Halloween and Sint Maarten offer unique and enjoyable experiences in the Netherlands. Halloween introduces a touch of spookiness to Dutch culture, while Sint Maarten highlights the country’s strong sense of community and tradition. Whether you’re a fan of ghostly celebrations or sweet, heartwarming traditions, the Netherlands has something for everyone during these two festive occasions. So, whether you’re carving pumpkins or singing Sint Maarten songs, have a delightful time celebrating in Dutch style!

How do you celebrate Halloween in your area?

Share in the comments below!

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