"The emphasis on the unity of the St. Martin people began to manifest more strongly as the basis for St. Martin Day in the late 1980s. That emphasis has been sustained with an increasing determination since the early 1990s, in both the official speeches and programs and in the ever-expanding popular culture activities.
However, a founding principal that launched the first St. Martin Day celebration in 1959, had as a stated aim the celebration of “the anniversary of the discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus.” This thematic aim was a benchmark throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and held some directional sway up to the early 1980s for organizers of St. Martin Day in Philipsburg (Great Bay) and Marigot. Also, “This coming together of the population of both sides of the island was not based on the Treaty of Concordia as many think.” The competing idea of the Concordia accord remains in staunch pockets of the popular imagination and in some official statements, well into the first decade of the new century, as the basis for celebrating St. Martin Day. The Columbus “reason” has all but disappeared.
Then there is the Oral Tradition account, that sometime between 1958 and 1959, two young political leaders, Commissioner Claude Wathey from the South and Mayor Dr. Hubert Petit from the North, got together to discuss the nascent tourism industry. Both were already totally committed to it. Pastoral and postwissel St. Martin was about to be thrust into modernity in an unprecedented way. Somehow the idea came up for a holiday unique to the St. Martin people, to remind them of and to celebrate their long, shared, and active history and traditions of family, friendship, labor, succession lands, trade, and culture that crisscrossed the frontier for centuries."
"St. Martin Day, on November 11, celebrates the culture, unity, and industry of St. Martin, a nation that constitutes all of the people from the North and South of the island.
The annual St. Martin Day is the principal “nation” day, and the only St. Martin holiday that could be said to “officially” join together the people that tenant the French territory (North) and the Dutch territory (South) to celebrate this Caribbean island as their one homeland."
This synopsis by Lasana M. Sekou was written for the 53rd anniversary of St. Martin Day — November 11, 2012 — at the invitation of the Department of Culture and Heritage (Service Culture), Collectivity of St. Martin. Lasana M. Sekou is a poet, historian, author, and publisher. © 2012 Lasana M. Sekou, houseofnehesipublish.com.