Holy Blood Procession

The Heilig Bloed Processie is impressive and should be on any religious person`s bucket list! I really had not imagined how impressive! There are 1700 characters, ages 3 months, baby Jesus to over 80 years old, in rich and varied costumes from sheepherders to Jesus to Guild flag bearers. There are 250 musicians from school bands to a rolling carillon player; there are 50 horses, 16 cart horses (no trucks) 13 floats, 6 camels, 6 donkeys and 80 sheep with accompanying sheepdog and several exotic birds. I was treated to a seat along the  procession route in front of the grand covered tribunal where the important clergy and politicos were seated including the Holy Blood Confrerie/brotherhood.

That in itself was  impressive as we went early so we could watch them all arrive, some in Mercedes with a police escort. The first thing I noticed, as we strolled the streets to the front of the cathedral and our seats, was the admirable Belgian organization. Since this is not an American cultural trait, I have not yet quite come to expect it, each school, store or restaurant along the procession route had chairs neatly lining the street in a single row each marked and numbered. These could be purchased from the Tourism office for a reasonable fee to procession watchers. Only one line of chairs, others could stand behind and be able to see.  This was massive organization in a town which welcomes from 25000 to 40000 for this procession.
No one assumed it would be any different and everyone was respectful, no pushing, shoving or discussions. I have to admit I was amazed at the courtesy and politeness of all. It was lovely and pleasant for everyone. One older man behind me dropped from the heat was immediately cared for, and given a seat so he could continue watching the procession. There was no selling of anything except  the program  book! This was not a commercial event, it was a religious procession, and Brugge`s High and Special Day. Of course, after watching the procession pass, 1 1\2 hours long, people dispersed to a nearby cafe or tearoom; on this pleasantly warm and sunny day, a cool cola or beer Brugse Zot I am sure was welcome.

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