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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tonight, the giants dance once more

For all those who are born in Dendermonde (and also for many more), this is the best day of the year. Tonight is Katuit (no translation possible, as even we don't know where the term comes from) and it is always on the last Thursday of August.

(The finale of the event: the giants dance of the Great Place - even when it's wet with rain!)

Starting at 8 pm, a processions of folkloristic groups, fanfares and floats will march throught the streets of the old town center. The highlight of this is, of course, the three giants Mars, Indian and Goliath. There were made in the Middle Ages and were already carried around at that time. Each giant weighs around 100 kg and is not put on wheels, but carried by one man only. It takes great skill and know-how to be able to walk and even dance with such a weight on your shoulders, while seeing nearly nothing. So the carriers are men who are looke upon as heroes and they are well-respected in town. They also need to belong to one of the families that once owned the rights to empty and load the ships that docked in port.

(This is a Knaptand, styled after a big fish which was once found in the river Dender. It's used to scare the little kids.)

You see, Dendermonde is a town of tradition. Katuit and also the Ros Beiaard Ommegang go back for many centuries and so it's no wonder people cry when they view 'their' giants and mighty horse - for it may well be the last time in your life.

It's difficult to explain what these giants and horse mean to us. I was born in Dendermonde and consider myself a well-educated person, but also I get tears in my eyes when I see the approach of the giants. It just takes over at that moment. You are carried away on the tune to which they dance (also this music was composed long ago).

If you ever  happen to visit our town, do so during the last week of August or in May 2020, when Horse Bayard will walk through town once more (this event only takes place every 10 years).

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