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Modified 2-Mar-09
Created 2-Mar-09
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In a few communities in the north of Antwerp, an age-old annual feast survives, deeply rooted in agrarian traditions, but nowadays more a kind of carnival celebration. The event is called "goose riding" (ganzenrijden).

The young male villagers ride on horseback around the village square and try to pull the head off a suspended goose. (This used to be a live animal, now one killed beforehand.)
The rider who wins, gets the goose, also a money prize that accumulates over the day (which he can use to buy beer for the whole town), and is crowned King of the Festival keeping that title until the next year. Much feasting and drinking follows (and has been going on throughout the day).
The festivities are quite elaborate, with a procession to go pick up last year's King at his residence, with first year riders getting a baptism, with mock policemen and a mock doctor and nurses supervising the event (and taking care of riders that have "fallen from their horse", with brandy etc). Lots of music, singing and drinking, and painting of faces.
Elaborate and ancient rules determine the order in which the riders make their rounds under the goose, and also how the goose should be tied, how the webbing around its body gets a few cuts with a knife if the race drags on too long, etc.
I went to see the festivities in Zandvliet this year and was invited to photograph and document the whole event.
Goose-riding I

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Category:City Scenes
Subcategory:Documentary
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