Ieper Local Custom Tips by Pavlik_NL Top 5 Page for this destination
Ieper Local Customs: 31 reviews and 49 photos
Poems, some people like to write their misery away
In Flanders Fields may be the most famous of all poems wriiten in these hoorible circumstances. It's amaizng to see how art in this form survives the heartships these men had to go through. It shows an amazing personality and a very strong character. But John MacCrae was not the only one and Ieper has given many a special place in and around it's town. For example on the defencive walls there are several plaques with poems to be read. Below in the picture you can read a Dutch one (if you know this language), but here is another I have written down for you:
This evening I was going to Ypres. getting on for six.
I drove into the setting sun and three storeys high
Dali-esqua clouds which were being seen off by
- a force -
Nine gale, the heavens blew away from the earth
no way I could stop them, I drove and drove, 95 mph
and every minute fell ten minutes behind. There went my horizon
When I get in Ypres, it's 1917. Germans have blasted the sun to smithereens. What light there still is, is explosions.
I'm in a poem by Emund Blunden.
From the trenches he's writing an ode to the poppy.
Earth has a great super-ego of flowers over it.
Blunden has them literally in his sights.
Here for all of a couple of years
it's the second before you die.
Little things are all there is.
Later I listen to the last post at Menin Gate:
three bugles you can hear cut back through eighty years,
right to whatever's left now on the bone.
No empty streets during the "Kattenstoet 2006"
Only in 1938 the old relation with cats came back, this time in a little more animal friendly way. Slowly the city and it's citizens organised a festival that would grew out to be one of the biggest parades in belgium: the "Kattenstoet". On the 6th of March 1955 this parade was breaking through with ten's of thousands in visitors. Year after year, enormous efforts were done to make a new specatcular parade, which in present times became so expensive, that the city decided to only have the parade once each three years. The next will be in 2006. Dozains of parade wagons, giants, 1500 actors, drumbands and dancing groups.
The traditional throwing of cats from the Belfort tower is now-a-days alos returning, except ... it's the town's fool that is throwing cuddly toys in the form of cats down to the Market Square. Ieper is and stays the town of the cat!
Watch good and you will see some cats from Ieper
Completely sure where it came from, no-one is, but cats and Ieper have a very special relationship. In early medieval times, the cat was a symbol of bad spirits. It was not one itself, but always predicted disasters and mischief. The Germanic tribes sacrificed cats to keep evil ghosts away. Christians saw them as a sign of the devil or witchcraft. In short, cats were not that popular and were not welcome anywhere. In Ieper they had a rather original way of getting rid of cats that were found. They were simply thrown from the Belforttower. This even became a tradition and kept on going when it was already abolished everywhere else. Until 1817 it happened then and again. One then said, oh, but it doesn;t hurt the cat ... they always land on their feet.
Pictoresc chapel on the fortifications of Ieper
As much as there are statues of holy saints watching over us in town, where they are houses in small corners in or on the walls of houses and buildings, as much there are chapels in the more open space outside the town. Here there are on many corners small houses with again a statue inside. One can burn candles in the somewhat bigger ones, or just say a prayer in the smaller ones. Most favourite saint ... well, of course, mother Mary with child: Madonna.
Statue of a priest, watching over us from the wall
Ieper, Flanders and the whole of Belgium is full of them. In my homecountry The Netherlands only in the southern provinces you'll find them. Statues and chapels in various sizes, places and forms. These signs of Roman Catholicism is for those who live above the rivers (as we call it in The Netherlands as the rivers are the border between protestantism and catholicism) an exotic item and for those who have the eye for this religious aspect of history, the road before them is paved with surprises.
Last Post on trumpets of the Ieper fire brigade
The Last Post is a military trumpet tune that shows the end of the day in military camps. The ceremony is a beautiful sign and a speaker will name all regiments that lost men in the fierce battles between 1914 and 1918 of which many were burried without a name on their grave. These missing are here, surrounding you on the echoing walls of the Menin Gate. The whole is breathtaking and will guarantee a lumb in your throat and a tear in your eyes. People are silent here, something that doesn't happen that often now-a-days. May those who fell in the Great War, never be forgotten and their names live forever more.
Menin Gate in the evening, something special!
Since 1928 their is a ceremony in Ieper that will - without a doubt - give you wet eyes. When you want to experience this beautiful, but also emotional happening, then be at 20:00 hours exactly at the Meense Poort (Menin Gate). You will not be alone, a many will come, which makes the feeling only stronger. Now, 86 years (it's 2004) after the tragedy ended in Flanders (and the Western frontline) every evening at eight o-clock sharp the Last Post is sounding under the Menin Gate (more next tip).
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