"Gansrijden" is a folkloric game which still exists in some villages in the north of Antwerp near the Dutch border (Stabroek, Hoevenen, Lillo, Berendrecht, Zandvliet, Ekeren). A dead goose is hung upside down on the gallows. The participants dressed in traditional uniforms (every village has its own colours) ride on a Belgian heavy horse to the gallows and try to tear off the head of the goose. This can take a while (up to 2-3 hours). The one who tears off the head is the winner and will be called king. During the game local merchandisers will sponsor some money. The king will get the money but must spend it in the local pubs to celebrate his victory.
The kings of the villages will come together at the end of the "gansrijden" season to play a last game to become emperor.
In Stabroek this game takes place on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (40 days before Eastern). It starts in the afternoon around 3 o'clock.
I got no idea.
It feels at least a bit strange to see
an animal used this way.
And no I didn't wait to see the head get ripped off.
Personally I like to see the goose like in the picture.
The villages got lots of water birds in the area
because of the schelde but also a lot of
lakes and ponds.
Weird to see rare birds in this industrial setting near the harbor...
(best place for a walk and to see some wildlife ,
the castle of berendrecht , must see actvity)
Oh , and before I forget to tell it's all FREE.
the 'ganzenrijden' as well as the birdwatching.
The woman have got their own competition.
The winner can't apply for 'emperor'.
The nice thing about their competition is
that the price money is for charity purpose.
That price money can get as high as 6000 euro.
This is Belgium.
We can't do without waffles ,
burgers (forget about macdonalds -
you'll never eat those again) ,
lots of beer , genever
(it's very cold that time a year)
Also a lot of noise is needed...
It isn't a high speed competition...
everything seems to go it's slow way.
Have a look around in the local papers.
In general the festivities take place half februari.
It's their local carnival.
(that has something to do with Christianity ,
and a period of 40 days abstaining from food. )
The 'Emperor' competion takes place at the end of march
in the village from the 'emperor' of the year before.
Information about the 2004 competion.
Seen the last picture in the tip previous
to this one? Wondered about the horses?
Most horses used in the competion are
But Belgian horses are their official name.
The famous belgian breed of horses were used
to work the land in ancient times.
They are much heavier build then other races.
The horses were used in the harbor to move
heavy cargo. In the mines to drag the charcoal
in wagons underground.
Soon they became very popular all over the world.
One source mentiones that in 1910 35 000 horses
were sold worldwide.
Nowadays they are only used in forestry in the 'ardennen'.
To move away trunks where modern
machines can't get.
They are know as the logo for 'palm'.
A brand of beer.
I never saw so manny of these horses together.
They became very rare when machines took over
Every organisation has his own clothing.
Sometimes in the colors of the villages escutcheon.
Or in the case of this brave knight in the picture ,
a smock froc.
This was the clothing of the 'knights' of Berendrecht.
A 'smock froc' is the most common clothing
when folklore festivities take place in Belgium.
The locals gather around in the center of the village
with their horses.
Between two trees or under a wooden construction
a (now) dead goose hangs upside down in
a net (covered with slippery soap - info from a local).
In a certain order they all drive up to the goose
and try to tear the head off.
The winner becomes king of the society
and is send out to the 'emperor' competion
together with the persons before the head goes off.
The person who becomes 'emperor' take the competion
home to his village.
What is there to win?
Money , money money and honour.
All local shops add money.
This is not for the person himself.
He has to organise festivities and treat
at the local pub...
Centuries ago it was a yearly festive activity
in a lot of villages from the border in the north
till the capital Brussels.
Today there are only a few villages left.
Stabroek , Berendrecht , Zandvliet , Lillo Hoevene.