Published On: Sat, Nov 9th, 2019

Diamond in the Ruff – The 60th Celebration of St. Maarten Day

sxm - st. maarten -flag - concert -  spiritual

PHILIPSBURG — After the OneSXM Youth Concert (Friday, November 8th at 7 pm ), and the Spiritual-Jollification (Sunday, November 10th 4:30 pm), we celebrate “We Story” with A Concert for Sint Maarten, an event organized by Clara Reyes, and is to be held on Monday 11th at 6 pm in the Festival Village.

According to the Head of Culture, Clara Reyes “The concept of St. Maarten’s Day is to have all three concerts show different facets of us. The young people, in OneSXM Youth Concert, will celebrate their story, the spirituality will come through the Spiritual-Jollification, and A Concert for SXM is an opportunity to showcase the 12 kings monarch – the various Calypso kings who have won over the years. Calypso is a very integral part of our community and our culture, and they’ve been a very important part of the story-telling aspect of St. Maarten. We will have an opportunity through their stories and their songs to revisit some very important things of time in the past of St. Maarten.”

St. Maarten’s Day commemorates the Treaty, which was signed on March 23 rd 1648. However, this celebration takes place on November 11th, because of Dr. Petit, who wanted both sides of the island to be able to celebrate this occasion. He realized the French government wouldn't have permitted dismissals of schools except on days established as holidays in France. Therefore, he proposed to celebrate on the day France observed as Armistice Day. His proposal was accepted by Dr. Claude Wathey and the island council.

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of this dual Island Nation Sint Maarten /St. Martin jointly celebrating the St. Maarten Day. “In researching the 60th Anniversary, it is described as “diamond jubilee”, and the diamond is always described as enduring and unconquerable – the strongest of all-natural minerals, so for me, it encapsulates the idea of what St. Maarten is and how we can grow even stronger in our kinship,” says Reyes.

This history of shared traditions and cultural practices extend as far back as 1648, beginning with the first settlers on this shore and extending through the tumultuous and dehumanizing epoch of enslavement. Our kinship relationship stood fast while transitioning through various stages of our development, the birth of the tourism economy from simpler days of agriculture, farming, and fishing days. Those halcyon days of innocence gave way to modern, fast-paced, frenzied, and sometimes erratic and hedonistic lifestyle. Still, the St. Maarten people have held together, held fast to beliefs and values that have stood the test of times and political upheavals, the influx of new peoples, and new traditions. The St. Maarten spirit of generosity and embracing hospitality has remained the beacon for all who come to our shores.

“St. Maarten Day is an opportunity to truly connect with the idea of what it means to be living and working on St. Maarten. This is my home, by choice, since I was a three-year-old child. It is where I formed into an adult. It’s given me a wonderful childhood. I felt like I’ve had such a magical childhood, and everything of who I am took shape on this beautiful island I call sweet St. Maarten.

St. Maarten’s Day is a special day for me, to always connect and remind myself of this beautiful island. It’s an opportunity to put things in place to help solidify her presence, to help create a very dense rich image and experience of the full scope of all the individuals and characters that shaped to make St. Maarten home. This island is beautiful, but more important are the people I’ve had through my childhood that helped shaped me and gave St. Maarten its definition as a place of wonder, creativity, talent, history, vibrant and rhythmic culture, and the history of the people for the resistance from enslavement to emancipation. St. Maarten means a lot to me.”