Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse


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Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Télésambre, 2010

The Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse are a major component of the cultural identity of the eponymous region found between the rivers of Sambre and Meuse in Wallonia, Belgium. The marches commemorate the dedication of churches of many villages and small towns honouring the Saint to whom the religious buildings are dedicated. The whole villages and towns participate. The escorted processions consist of several companies, based on a military model, and each company group tens, even hundreds of marchers. The participants dress in military uniforms, forming one or more companies that escort the religious procession. A committee and/or a statutory body manage each company, organizing the course of the march and ensuring the correct formations. Young people march alongside their parents in the Young Guard or other companies. The transmission of traditions occurs orally, often within the family circle, but also during gatherings, meetings, banquets or balls necessary for the organization of the march. Dynasties of fifes and drums have been created that transmit their knowledge, songs and music to new musicians. Similarly, drum and fife manufacturers and dozens of artisan clothes designers pass on their craftsmanship in reconstituting and creating instruments, costumes, flags and accessories. The marches play a key role in enhancing integration, assembling men and women from different backgrounds and promoting social cohesion.