As mentioned yesterday in the post on our 'adopted' home-town I'm on contribution two for Robert's meme "My Home Town - a new meme": Bergen op Zoom, our traditional Home Town.
Bergen op Zoom, in the South-West part of The Netherlands (between Antwerp - Belgium - and Rotterdam) where I was born in 1962, is a rather old market-town (received city-rights in 1266), steeped in Traditions.
Many of our town's traditions stem for the Catholic Church, but then 'adjusted' to the Burgundian mentality Southern Netherlands is known for.
Like 'Vasten-avend' (Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash-Wednesday when Lent starts). A very Catholic tradition but with a typical Bergen op Zoomse 'twist' - if we can't dress-up, have lots of music and fun it ain't worth our time. Where do you find a town in the whole world that dresses-up its bell-tower "The Pepper-box"? (And has a voice for that matter, our greatest actor during the children's carnival party on the Monday afternoon - and which voice from high above gave Queen Beatrix the giggles during one of her visits in the 90's during Queens-day, where for the occasion The Pepperbox was even dressed-up in a diner jacket)
And we dress-up ourselves too, of course. Some 'costumes' are known to be handed down from Granddad (more like ransacking Granddad's wardrobe or attic) and many wear voiles curtains, a tradition blue farmers-blouse (boerenkiel) or a heavy leather raincoat. And the strangest head ware you can find, even lamp-shades and bird-cages are used.
And age doesn't matter when it comes to celebrating Vasten-avend, as young as 6 months up to 95 year olds join the three week festivities, with the Grand-Finale weekend starting Saturday before Ash-Wednesday and ending on Tuesday 11.45pm sharp (a marathon party to be honest, we all need three days off after that - resting our tiered feet, strained voice-muscles and sore heads)
As for the music, it's all 'home-made'. The last time we were part of it there where over 70 music groups, in our town's dialect also known as Dweilbandjes (verbatim translation: floor-cloth band) with as many copper instruments you can handle and one or two little drums and of course one very big drum. I used to play the trumpet in a teenage dweilband - the age where most musicians start and many continue to play in these bands even if they are retired (and invent names like: "Pa still knows how")
Talking about music, some of these Dweilbandjes progress to become Jazz-bands - old fashion Dixie to Brass bands and the odd modern funk. (That Bergen op Zoom has one of the best known Music 'academy's' shouldn't come as a surprise any more.) 32 years ago a new musical tradition started: The annual Jazz-weekend. (Where this year we managed to talk double Dutch.)
Really steeped in Catholic tradition is the annual 'Maria-ommegang': Tribute to Our Lady for keeping our town safe during war, floods and other disasters. Again, a time to dress-up, to 'act' (biblical scenes in this case) and for music. Whole families are known to take part and over the years are promoted to more difficult roles in the procession. Some start as little sheep's-herder - real sheep! - and end up many years later as Mozes or even portraying The Devil (favourite role of one of my cousins - he always looked really 'spooky').
That's in a nut-shell Bergen op Zoom, the town we left in 2000 for our adopted new Home Town in The Garden of England, Kent UK.
You know what's funny? When beginning May this year I had my 'dreaded' 10 minute presentation every BNI member has to go through every 7 - 8 months, I used the traditions of our home-town and the traditional industries in our home-town to explain our www: Why we do, what we do, the way we do it.
We've been raised that way: traditional.
(forgot to tag others, sorry Robert. In good tag-traditions I would like to hear/read about their home-towns from:
Both Mike and Fred at TheHeavyChef Project - South Africa, with a UK-Dutch influence
Pete Aldin at Great Circle - Australia
Ann V. Michael at Manage to Change - US of A