Luxembourg is currently drafting new legislation aimed at better safeguarding its cultural heritage and, in particular, its intangible cultural heritage. Since Luxembourg is a small State, its administrative structures are not very complex and there is not a very extensive system of documenting and/or safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The body with overall responsibility for the safeguarding and management of intangible cultural heritage is the Section de linguistique, d’ethnologie, et d’onomastique (Linguistics, Ethnological and Dialectical Section) of the Institut grand-ducal (Grand Ducal Institute). The Oeuvre St-Willibrord, a practitioner association, is responsible for maintaining and ensuring the organization of the Hopping procession of Echternach.
The State does not itself provide training in the management of intangible cultural heritage, but it encourages associations active in this area (e.g. the Union Grand-Duc Adolphe for musical traditions) to undertake this, through the provision of financial support and personnel and by supporting relevant publications. Cultural associations also teach historical knowledge on these elements.
The National Audiovisual Institute holds a comprehensive documentation collection available to the public. The aforementioned Section of the Grand Ducal Institute (‘the Section’) also holds a well-stocked library of works on intangible cultural heritage available to personnel of the Institute. The Section also contains a wealth of documentation on intangible cultural heritage, and a documentation centre for the Hopping procession is administered under the aegis of the Basilica of St-Willibrord, which provides precise information on the element and, during the procession, puts out articles on the event. Radio transmissions and a press centre also disseminate information.
The Section is the body responsible for undertaking and holding the national Inventory of intangible cultural heritage. This inventory is based on territorial principles whereby some elements (e.g. Hämmelsmarsch and the Pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Luxembourg) are present throughout Luxembourg, and others are more regional (e.g. the Hopping procession of Echternach). The criteria used for inclusion of intangible cultural heritage in the inventory are that the elements are continuously practised or enacted and have been documented for a long time; contain essential characteristics; and are representative. Elements of a more local character (e.g. the Miertchen in Vianden) are not included on the Inventory for that reason. Viability is not taken into account since these elements are not currently under threat. The Inventory is updated on the basis of research on the elements undertaken by the Section. As for community involvement in identifying/defining intangible cultural heritage for the inventory, it is generally the local societies that maintain the elements and ensure their survival that provide information. Non-governmental organizations are not involved in the identification of elements of intangible cultural heritage, although they may draw the attention of the Section to interesting elements.
Four elements are currently the subject of specific measures by virtue of their inscription on the national Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Luxembourg; the Eimaischen, a pottery and ceramics market held on Easter Monday in the old town of Luxembourg; the Hämmelsmarsch at the end of August when a group of musicians accompanied by sheep play a popular tune in the streets; and the Hopping procession of Echternach (also inscribed on the Representative List in 2010). Concerning elements not included in the national inventory, access to relevant information is not as systematic and well-organized.
The four officially-recognized elements are presented to pupils at all levels of schooling and information on intangible cultural heritage is disseminated to young people through school programmes. As regards religious heritage (e.g. the Hopping procession of Echternach or the Pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Luxembourg), information is also transmitted through the religious education component of the school curriculum. Primary school children in Echternach are given special courses at the time of the Hopping procession.
The Hopping procession of Echternach was inscribed on the Representative List in 2010. The procession continues to enjoy a remarkable vitality with around 10,000 participants and many tens of thousands of spectators. Inscription and related events have raised awareness of the importance of cultural heritage, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in Luxembourg, where they are particularly important given that immigration has been a tradition there for several centuries. The preparation of the present report was undertaken jointly by the National Commission for UNESCO and the practitioner association, namely the Oeuvre St-Willibrord, whose archives were also consulted. The Section of the Grand Ducal Institute also provided its input.