Yesterday was the 61st edition of Brabantsedag in Heeze. The biggest parade in the Netherlands. 16 Carts displayed very impressive constructions, play, grime, sounds, paintwork, and dance. True handmade masterpieces about Brabant culture and history.
For internationals though it is not always understandable. Cong from China remarked: “It is very extraordinary but I don’t always get the background. I see a lot of crosses and referrals to Christianity, but I don’t know exactly what is meant.” Dan, also from China, agreed: “The parade is amazing, there is so much to see. I wish we would know more about the history. “
The information booklet contained some texts in English with explanations of the displays, for the first time this year. This helped the visiting internationals, as well as friendly local visitors who were very happy to explain certain elements.
The village of Heeze was a lively town yesterday: music everywhere, dressed-up people mixing with the crowd, people on stilts, even Pinocchio was there. It was a day full of entertainment.
If you like to get to know Brabant (the Southern province in the Netherlands) this is a must see next year. Put it in your diary already, the last Sunday of August.
The village breathes Brabantsedag. When you arrive you see a selection of all Dutch chairs lined up, put there to be claimed by the owners later on. (Jokingly you can call it a furniture display too… hundreds of different chairs you can find along the route.)
Indeed many creations refer to Christianity, the good sides and the bad sides of it. Though they leave the judgment often in the middle like: the witch hunt in the Middle Ages, “Who was to blame? The witches or the witch hunters?” In that period too, the urge of reverting all people to Christianity, even in the Netherlands itself, was addressed. Towns were invaded and people were ushered to reading the bible and learning Latin. Many misunderstandings arose: the Brabant town is still called Babyloniënbroek.
Topics in the parade included: murders, extraordinary people (like the smallest woman in the world from Ossendrecht), luting gangs (‘Bokkenrijders’), victories (the Dutch Trojan horse: the peat barge of Breda (‘Turfschip‘) and not to forget business successes were exposed in a grand way. Such as the shoe brand Van Bommel, which only still exists because of the strong widow (with 5 children) in the 1800’s, continued the shoe factory. She was helped by her two sons, respectively 11 and 9-years-old. The success of material dyeing company from Helmond called Vlisco was shown in a vibrant way too. In Africa this brand was as desired as Gucci in Europe.
All in all, you can say, nothing different in Brabant, and nothing different in the past. Also here, a long time back, international relations took place: international trade, wars about borders (Baarle-Nassau, they couldn’t decide if it was Dutch or Belgian), women’s rights, child abuse and the question if insane people are really insane or are the sane?
Brabantsedag is a rich and not to be missed display of a very remarkable and sometimes bizarre past. Brabantsedag is the work of hundreds of volunteers making the carts, creating the mobile stages and added to that, astonishing grime and costumes. A year of energy put into a two-and-a-half hour is passing by. Fabulous!
As Aisyah from Kuala Lumpur exclaimed: “I thought it would be a short parade with tractors and simple signage but this was actually really amazing!! I am very impressed. All the effort of the people and so many visitors, and the poffertjes: yumm! Also we cycled from Eindhoven to Heeze with Eindhoven Cycling tours through the forest (very convenient too because we avoided the traffic jams). We had a wonderful trip to get there too. I had a great day!”
Eindhoven News promotes this event as they believe this is a great source to learn about Brabant’s past in a fun way. Also, it is engaging to listen to local brass bands, local famous musicians and to meet local people. It is a stone throw away from Eindhoven with an abundance of history, culture and not to forget entertainment.
Main picture: Vriendenkring Ietskes Schif – Display: Antonius Bolsius, candle maker
For Eindhoven News: Irene Martens