Tuesday, November 11, 2003

songs of little lights

today is remembrance day in many parts of the world.
but here in holland, at least in our bit, today is saint maarten's day, commemorating this revered person's hospitality to strangers.
i had no idea that the holiday even existed when, years ago, newly moved north, newly married, newly pregnant, i responded to the doorbell. standing outside was a little group of children, faces shiny and expectant, sporting home-made paper lanterns and plastic bags.
they burst into song.
i had absolutely NO idea what it all meant. when they finished, i thanked them kindly and closed the door.
minutes later, a neighbour scurried over, and explained, to my embarrassment and dismay, that i was supposed to have sweets ready to distribute - lots of sweets: i could expect at least a hundred tiny serenades as the evening progressed.
she kindly presented me with an hours worth of candy. when that was gone, i turned off all the lights and sat in the darkened living room, feeling guilty, listening to the shuffle of small feet and excited snatches of verse in the november night.


  1. Cool. Halloween in the colonies that would be. The children are expected to say Trick or Treat when they come to the door and traditionally you could either give them a trick or treat but today we just hand out candy and forget how cruel it would be to trick a child.

  2. Sint-Maarten with the Grand-Parents and Sint-Niklaas at home some 45 km from there wasn`t exactly a bad thing in my youth :-)

  3. Kids are the last hunters! The quest for the candy bar :-)

  4. Have you noticed the 'N' in the picture? Very nice typography. The fact that I need your picture to notice it also shows I've never before read the text on the monument with enough attention.

  5. What a lovely tradition. Much kinder than 'trick or treat' - no retaliatory overtones. I do hope they still do it.