The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every two years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.

Description

The best-known expression of the Saint Martin celebration in Utrecht is the Saint Martin singing, or, as the locals say: In the evening of November 11 children with paper lanterns go singing from door to door. In exchange for singing a Saint Martin song they hope to get sweets of fruit, or some money.

There are many other activities in Utrecht on November 11, all emphasizing the core values togetherness, sharing and justice. In the morning the Utrecht Bell Ringers’ Guild rings the heavy Martin bell in the Dom Tower. The mayor raises the city flag, together with schoolchildren. In the Dom Church the solidarity prize ‘The Cloak of Saint Martin’ is awarded, there are exhibitions, walks, lectures, a free meal for the homeless, an ecumenical vesper in the Dom, the ‘fanfare 11-11’ (a musical lantern parade with a highlighted Saint Martin on horseback), the tradition Saint Martin Fair at the Oudegracht, a Saint Martin children’s party in the Dom and more.

 

Community

To promote the city of Utrecht as THE Saint Martin city of the Netherlands, and to propagate the ideals of Saint Martin, the Sint Maartensberaad Utrecht (Saint Martins’ Assembly Utrecht) was founded in April 2001. In this assembly the city parish of the Utrecht Dom church, the Museum Catharijneconvent and the Utrecht Tourist Information are represented. And of course there are the children who go door to door, singing. The schools in Utrecht pay much attention to the celebration of Saint Martin.

The Sint Maarten parade draws in total about 7.000 participants and audience.

 

History

The feast of Saint Martin was celebrated already in the Middle Ages. The first church that was built in the seventh century, on the spot where the Dom Square is now, was dedicated to Saint Martin. In this church relics of him were kept. Being a Roman soldier, he generously gave money to beggars and when one day he had no more money, he gave away half his cloak. In a dream it became clear to him that the beggar had been Christ. On November 11, 397 he was buried in Tours, amid great interest. The tradition of singing Saint Martin songs and children going from door to door dates back to the time that the begging poor went to the houses of the rich, door to door with torches, in order to get food and fuel for the winter. By Saint Martin one had to be ready for winter.

Until the Reformation, around 1580, Saint Martin was celebrated in great style. Afterwards the celebration became much more subdued. During the eighteenth century, in some quarters, there was a begging feast for children. In the years around 1930 there were peace demonstrations, where committees walked with Saint Martin lights. When – after the sixties – anthroposophical schools became more popular, they gave an impulse to the Saint Martin celebration. By the end of the century, within a short while, Saint Martin singers appeared all over the place, also in new housing estates. The children’s’ processions appeared to promote social cohesion. The revival in Utrecht was quite remarkable. The core idea of Saint Martin, sharing, has been given a contemporary interpretation.

 

Contact

Sint Maartensberaad
Dr. J.P. Thijsselaan 65
3571 GM Utrecht
Website