It’s all quiet in Mons now —- well as quiet as this city can be. It sure does love to throw a party.
Sooooo we experienced and survived our first Ducasse, aka the Doudou festival. I took a gazillion photos and video, but my wifi here sucks — irritatingly so! Uploading pics takes forever, and for some reason doing it on WordPress is even more of a pain. So, you’ll only get a few snapshots of the big event. It’s a weeklong series of surprises that lead up to the big celebration on Trinity Sunday. It’s a celebration of the people of Mons from yesteryear and today, and they take great pride in it.
Long story short: It includes relics from their patron saint Waudru (a woman thank you very much), her husband’s relics, religious relics from all over the area, a golden chariot, avoiding the plague, King George and the slaying of a dragon. It’s ancient tradition melded with the city’s ever-evolving modern history. There are sacred church ceremonies, bands, parades, rituals on top of rituals (with their own song!), and people chanting and practicing to push that golden chariot up a steep hill (because if it doesn’t make it up the hill in one try the plague might return). Think Mardi Gras meets, well, macrame dragons.
It’s an 800 plus-year oral tradition that combines a people’s pride with their love of drinking. It’s only been interrupted twice — once during one of the World Wars (the other war years they did a quick blessing and run with the chariot sans parades and parties) and once during the French Revolution.
It’s also insane.
The Friday night that kicked off the festivities had bands and porta bars everywhere. There wasn’t an alleyway free of people. Thousands of people choked the Grand Place — luckily all were in good spirits!
This crowd is for the kid’s dragon, which is slain (by children) exactly a week after King George slays his beast. It’s a mini Doudou that trains the young for their part in the adult procession later on in life.
Kids parading a baby dragon.
King George preparing for battle of the big dragon. Sorry but I couldn’t get my pic of big dragon to upload.
Just a taste of all that we saw. Seriously, to my friends who would love to witness this first hand, book your airfare now. Doudou 2019 happens in June. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s loud, it’s sometimes dangerous (too many people), it’s chaos, and it’s beautiful church ceremonies, parade processions, costumes, music, etc. etc. — plus come on there’s dragons and beer too!
If you’re brave — or are lucky enough to have a crazy neighbour brave enough to fight the crowds — you might even get a hair off the dragon to wear for good luck.
P.S. Badger was at Lorayne’s during the main weekend because of the crowds, but he took part in it during the week. Here’s his take on it https://badgerdoesbelgium.wordpress.com