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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Century-old folklore in Dendermonde

Tonight, around 8 pm, the whole town center is ready once more for the traditional 'Katuit' (don't ask me to explain in English, there is simply no name for it).
So what is this?
First of all you have to know that Dendermonde was a medieval town, with its own town charter (given by Count Robrecht of Bethune, the ruler over Flanders and my predecessor). There were walls and fortifications, and the city was inhabited by citizens who were organised in guilds.
Those guilds all had a patron saint and to honor those, they organised a yearly holy procession through the town. This was done every last Thursday of August.
Up to now the tradition remains, but the pageant nowadays has little to do with the  old one. The old one was religious in meaning, but the three giants were already present.
Yes, giants. The images of Mars, Goliath and Indian. They are huge puppets with carved wooden faces and body, so they weigh heavily. Yet they are not on wheels, like in many other Flemish town, but they are carried on the shoulders of strong men.
Those who carry the giants and also our world-famous Horse Bayard, are the descendants of those who unloaded the ships on the river Schelde. The present carriers have to belong to one of those old families, otherwise they won't be chosen.
For a couple of hours, our old town center will be filled with thousands of people, most part inhabitants of Dendermonde, but also lots of people from all over Belgium and tourists. At the end of the evening, the giants will dance on the Great Market before the Town Hall. And the finale is a big firework display.
If you like to see images of those giants, please visit my Facebook page (you'll find me there as Nicole Moens and my profile pic is of a woman standing on a terrace).

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