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vrijdag 20 juni 2014

“Brugse Zot”, in English “Fool of Bruges”

If you learn about Belgium, maybe you’ll have read about the nicknames the habitants of the cities get. And, strangely enough each and every one is proud of that name!

A few examples (before we go to Bruges) are Ghent, where the nickname is “stroppendrager”, that’s a “noose-bearer”. In the 1500’s the people of Ghent were discontent under the ruling of Charles V. He wanted to expand the territories but that was at the expense of the taxpayer. So a revolution was called and Charles came all the way from Madrid to crush the rebels in Ghent. He succeeded in 1540 to ‘liberate’ the city. As proof of defeat he had the nobility of Ghent walk the streets of the city, bear feet and with a noose around the neck. The name “noose-bearer” was born. Still today it is a symbol against the tyranny.
Noose-bearers during the "Gentse Feesten"
Inhabitants of Mechelen (a city between Antwerp and Brussels) for example have the nickname of “maneblussers” or “moon-extinguishers”. History says that in the night of January 27th -28th 1687 there was a full moon with little clouds. A man who came from a bar, stumbled direction home and when he looked up to the tower thought it was on fire. In no time he had people wake up, sounding the alarm for fire. People who looked at the tower had the same impression, the tower was on fire! Everyone was gathering at the square in front of the burning tower… and then the clouds opened up and the moon came through. It was at that moment the people, ready to fight the ‘fire’, realized it was a reddish moonshine that gave the impression of a burning tower. The nickname “moon-extinguishers” was a fact!
The tower of Mechelen "on fire"
Now the name of Bruges, this story began in 1488. Maximilian of Austria was not loved by the people of the city. The people wanted more independency in rule for the city, and they held Max more than 4 months captive in a house (house Craenenburg on the Market square). When Maximilian was free he forbade any more fairs, markets or other activities in Bruges. Financially that was not interesting for the people of Bruges as you can imagine. At a certain moment the people found a perfect time for a big party, with the intention of satisfying Max and getting him in a good mood.
The festivities went on for some time, Maximilian saw everybody happy, partying, going crazy. The mayor saw that Max had a smile on his face and knew this was the moment to ask if it wasn’t possible to allow fairs and markets again. And maybe (Max had to be in a good mood, with the beer flowing abundantly) if there was a chance for the construction of a new ‘madhouse’. The legend says that Maximilian answered: “You don’t need a new madhouse, just close the gates of the city”.
The name “fools of Bruges” was born.
Just so you’d know: “mad” or “crazy” wasn’t a referral to being nuts of insane. It’s referring to the quirky character of the people of Bruges, with their love of humor and partying.
And, just so you'd know: from every nickname you can find a beer !
Brugse Zot is a very nice beer to try !