This week end is the week end the city of Mons waits all year for ! It’s the annual celebration of the ‘Doudou’. This centuries-long tradition, since 2005 a official oral and immaterial UN heritage dates form the Middle Ages and takes place each year during the Trinity week end, one week after the celebration of Pentecost. This traditional ‘Ducasse » last for several days and has many important times including The Procession of Saint Waudru, the city Saint who founded an abbey at the foot of the castle of Mons and The Battle of the Lumeçon.
Of course, this year the celebrations holds a special place for the city is a European Capital City of Culture so if you go there for the Doudou celebrations, be sure to also visit the art installations that are all over town and the five museums that just reopened several weeks from now. The procession of Saint Walburge will go through town with the traditional ‘Car d’Or’ (Golden Cart) and its cortege including corporations representants and city dignitaries. Last year, as a rememberance of the legend of the Angels of Mons ( telling of how british soldiers were protected by angels during the retreat of 1914) , angels took place in the procession as well and I hope, as a big fan of this legend (As a child, I knew about the legend long before I realized that Mons was in Belgium 😉 ) , they’ll be there this year too. At the end of the procession, the participants and inhabitants gathers behind the golden cart that must go up a hard slope next to the collegiate Church of Saint Waudru. If the ‘Car d’Or’ goes up the slope in a go, pushed by hundreds, if not thousands, of inhabitants the city will have luck for a year.
On sunday, a battle will oppose Saint George to the Dragon, it’s the ‘Battle of the Lumeçon’ where Saint George has to kill the dragon after a fight first with a lance, then with a gun pistol. The game of Saint George is codified and symbolises the victory of good against evil. The public, mostly young and strong men it must be said 😉 , also helps Saint George by fighting back the dragon tails that goes into the audience. Gripping a hair of its tail is a very looked for good luck charm and many are fighting to get one! It’s a unique tradition and I cannot resist posting this video from the local tv channel :
and another one dated 1945 who surely was special for it marked the end of WWII in a city wounded by two wars not mentioning the 18th centuries conflicts.
but this symbolic battle could (can? 😉 ) sometimes be impressive to foreign visitors, ‘The « Courrier de l’Escaut », regional newspaper of 16th of June 1892 tells the story of a french student was so shocked by the dragon’s tail attacks that he filed up a legal complaint against the ‘Doudou’!
The hymn of the ‘Doudou’ is the famous song « Chant du Doudou’ and its lines « C’est l’Doudou, C’est l’mama » are known by heart and transmitted from one generation to another. Talking about younger generations, to let them have a part in the ceremony without being scared by the crowds,a « Children’s doudou’ is organised the next sunday after the « Doudou’ with a child-scale battle and game. It sure has a great success with the younger ones!
Happy Doudou Everybody! (and especially my friends and long lost cousins from Mons)