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St. Maarten Day – Saint Martin Day

Nov 12, 2021 | 0 comments

On November 11, 1493 Christopher Columbus discovered the island, which until then was called “Soualiga” – land of salt, and gave it the name “St. Martin” in reference to the St. Martin’s holiday, which is celebrated every year on November 11 in honor of St. Martin of Tours.

In 1648, the French and Dutch divided the island between themselves and thus the island got 2 flags. To this day, the French flag and the Sint Maarten flag fly at the borders.

The current design of the Sint Maarten flag was designed by 17-year-old Roselle Richardson and officially adopted on June 13, 1985.

The colors red, white and blue have an important meaning. Red represents solidarity and courage. It shows what the island and its people stand for. White stands for peace and friendliness, and blue for the environment, such as the sky and the sea. The coat of arms consists of an orange-bordered azure shield with the white Philipsburg courthouse in the upper left, a bouquet of yellow sage (the national flower), and the silhouette of a Dutch-French friendship monument in the upper right; the shield is crowned by a golden rising sun, in front of which is a dull gray pelican in flight; a golden scroll below the shield bears in azure letters the motto: SEMPER PRO GREDIENS (Always in Progress).

Even today, however, the yellow-green Soualiga flag (Unity Flag) plays a major role for many local residents because it symbolizes the very unity of the island. The design of the Unity Flag and the symbols used represent the island itself and its history. It stands for freedom, unity and local pride. When the borders were closed because of Covid-19 and we were separated for months, people took to the streets and demonstrated for the unity of the island, holding the Soualiga flag high.

photo credit RTGH Photography

Sint Maarten’s founding fathers Dr. Claude Wathey and Dr. Hubert Petit proclaimed November 11, 1959 a National Holiday to celebrate the kinship of the islanders, the indomitable spirit of solidarity, resilience and perseverance of both parts of the island. People celebrate their common heroes on this day.

Since then, this day is celebrated on both sides of the island as “SXM DAY” holiday, when businesses are closed and people are off work. There are official celebrations alternating between the Dutch and French sides and all over the island “One Love – One Island” is celebrated on this day with parades and processions. People dress traditionally and everything is decorated in the common colors of red, white and blue.


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