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Friday, August 28, 2015

Flanders loves its folklore

Yesterday was a rainy day. The wet drips kept coming down, but that didn't prevent the entire population of Dendermonde (and also from various other towns and villages) to come down to the center to watch the annual parade of 'Our Giants' - in our dialect that would be 'Gruete Mannen'.

It's a tradition going way back to the Middle Ages, when the guilds had an annual procession in honour of their patron saints. Ever since, these vast wooden structures (and make sure, they are not put on wheels or pulled by horse) are carried through the town by members of the guild of ship loaders. Nowadays no more ships are loaded or unloaded in Dendermonde, but only descendants of the original families are allowed to carry either the giants or the legendary Horse Bayard.

Unesco recognized our giants and horse 10 years ago as world cultural heritage and it was on occasion of this that the parade had some new items added, like the Hell wagon with it's frightening devil and lots of fire. And like each year, the onlookers were treated to bread with 'kopvlees' - a sort of meat traditional for our town - and 'sprot' (little fishes). And little kids had to look out for the 'Knaptanden'. Accordng to the legend, a giant fish was once caught in a net in the Schelde, and this fish had enormous teeth.

But what everyone was waiting for were of course Indian, Mars and Goliath. You should hear the noise when they are coming near! They are carried by a team of three, who switch regularly because the giants weigh heavily and it's no small task to carry it around and dance with it!

Katuit takes place every year, on the Thursday following the Annual Fair in August. It's more or less the last Thursday of August or one of the first days of September. And it only starts at 8 pm, because the darkness gives the event even more atmosphere.

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