As I've probably told you before, I was born in the beautiful town of Dendermonde (Flanders, Belgium). Now I know it's difficult for other cultures to understand, but when you were born in a town or village in Flanders, you pretty much are bound to it. You'll never forget your place of birth, wherever you go.
So I'm very proud to be of Dendermonde (btw, I've lived here all of my 56 years) and more especially, I'm proud of our Horse Bayard (het Ros Beiaard, in our language).
Who or what is Bayard??? Well, it is a horse. Not a real one, but a construction resembling the Trojan Horse. According to old lore the head was made by a convicted murderer, who in return for mercy sculpted the wooden head. Here is how the horse looks:
Every ten years, Bayard marches through the streets of Dendermonde. To make it easy, our city goverment has decided to do it in all the decennium years: 1990, 2000, 2010. Before that, it only took place with celebrations, like the 1958 expo in Brussels, 1975: celebrating the new canal between Dender and Schelde, ...
It's an event every inhabitant of Dendermonde looks forward to. As soon as Bayard is stabled, the count-down to the next time begins. I know it's hard for others to understand, but here are peole who really love their folklore and especially those who are getting older realize that perhaps it will be the last time they can see Bayard...
To give a better understanding of the love every Dendermondenaar feels for 'his horse' just watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU2O9fcJCqg
It is the general repetition of the last event in 2010. You can see how Bayard nears the Market Place, where everyone is awaiting it. The big horse is carried by twelve strong men (they need to belong to families who lived in Dendermonde for ages) and they make the horse walk and jump. Each man carries some 100 kilo.
Better still, on top of the horse sit four young boys (the sons of Lord Aymon, Lord of Dendermonde). They need to be sons of one family, and no girl can come in-between. You may wonder if it is still possible to find families who have this amount of children, but see, each time they find the Sons of Aymon!