Solenn Tjin-a-Tsoi, Writer

Halloween began as the festival as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III named November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween grew into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats. 

Halloween is an all over the world tradition. It’s celebrated differently everywhere. However, in the Netherlands we don’t really celebrate Halloween. We have something that is similar to Halloween, it’s called Sint-Maarten ( Feast of Saint Martin ). It’s a holiday on November 11th. We go around the neighborhoods with lanterns and sing a song in front of the door of someone’s house. The song can be about the holiday but there are also random songs made up and it mostly rhymes. 

Sint Maarten was called Martinus when he was young. His parents were Romans. His father was a soldier in the army of the Roman empire. When Martinus grew up, he also joined the Roman army. As a soldier he was placed in Gaul. One evening he met a homeless guy begging for food or money at the gate of the city of Amiens, shivering in the winter cold. Martinus did not have any money to give to the homeless. But because the man was so cold, Martinus cut off half of his coat and gave it to the poor man. At night, Martin dreamed that Jesus Christ was the homeless guy he had given a piece of his coat. Martinus had been interested in Christianity for some time now. Because of this dream he left the army and became a Christian. He went to live as a recluse to devote himself entirely to the Christian faith. That is how Sint-Maarten was originated. 

The only difference between Halloween and Sint-Maarten is that on Halloween you dress up in costumes, which is not a thing during the holiday Sint-Maarten.