2009/2 Summaries


Den Lustelijcken Mey. Het incipit van een populair lied gerecycleerd tot titel van een devotieboekje door Paulus Fabri (Brussel, 1600)

Summary: “Den Lustelijcken Mey“, an ambiguous incipit of a popular devotional booklet “Den Lustelijcken Mey” is the opening line of two quite different songs, a religious and a romantic one. Paulus Fabri, a priest, remarkably
chose this ambiguous incipit as the title for a devotional booklet, printed by Jan Mommaert (Brussels, 1600). In fact “lustelijck” means ‘pleasant’ as well as ‘voluptuous’, whereas “mei” refers either to the month of Mayor to a maypole and a branch with leaves. In this booklet his maypole symbolizes Jezus Christ, the mystical groom-to-be of Catharina van Ouerbeeck, the young woman, for whom Fabri wrote the booklet. She was a novice in the convent of the Annunciates in Leuven and was about to take her monastic vows in May. The Rev. Fabri had a non-elite and mostly female audience in mind. He strongly emphasized the devotion for the Passion of Christ and tried to impart a more authentic religious conviction to his readers. In that respect he incorporated a song in his booklet that was to underline the powerlessness of mankind without God’s grace. Particularly interesting for the ethnologist is Fabri’s information about the way youngsters celebrated the beginning of May by placing a decorated branch-with-­leaves in front of the window of their beloved ones. He also noted that in the last night of April soldiers put a “mei”, more specifically in front of their officer’s accom­modation. The ethnologist finds in this booklet data about aspects of both material and immaterial culture. Fabri proved himself to be a careful observant of traditional practices in different trades.



Wat is er aan de hand? Hand, vingers en vuist in taal en omgang, recht, religie en magie

Summary: Hand, fingers and fist in communication, usage, law, popular religion, and magic
The hand, fingers and fist have played and important role and not only to handle. They are essential in non-verbal communication. They can help in measuring, coun­ting and reckoning or in fortune telling (palmistry). The hand of blessing, the mano poderosa, the hand of Fatima / Miriam, the hand of evil, the hand of glory, etc are well-known elements in white and black magic. Handsel, mortmain, left-handed marriage and handfast wedding used to be important aspects of everyday life. The hand, fingers and fist have also earned an important place in language, which can be idiomatic, metonymical and quite often very plastic.



Identiteitsdynamieken in Vlaamse dove rolmodellen: een verkenning van tendensen in emancipatieprocessen van dovengemeenschappen en parallellen met etnische minderheden in Europa

Summary: Identity dynamics in Flemish deaf role models: an exploration of trends in emancipation processes in deaf communities and parallels with ethnic minorities in Europe
In an exploratory qualitative case study, Flemish deaf role models experience the pro­cess of emancipation as a turning point in their lives, characterized by shifts in iden­tity dynamics. Deaf people wake up when coming into contact with emancipatory discourses and places with ideal conditions for deaf people. This process of deaf empowerment is intimately tied to a global-local interaction. In relation to develop­ments in larger society, trends in and parallels between identity dynamics in deaf communities in northwestern Europe and ethnic minorities are explored. This leads to the hypothesis that the politicization of deaf identity in the study can be under­stood as a second stage in the emancipation process of deaf people in Flanders. Young deaf people in northwestern Europe move freely between the hearing and deaf world as sign language users in a third stage of the emancipation process. Drawing upon a theoretical framework of intercultural negotiation and shared citizenship, Flemish deaf people’s awakening leads to conflicts and opens the dialogue on the cre­ation of a broader dimension of a sign language sociality in mainstream society. This is necessary for deaf people to participate in society on equal terms and live up to their potential.



De duivel in een doosje

Summary: The Flemish ‘galgenjong’: a boxed spirit and charm
The www.volksverhalenbank.be makes it possible to easily look up motifs, characters and items in Flemish narratives. The author deals with a very peculiar magical crea­ture, with characteristics of an imp, man, puppet or animal. It is so small that it fits in a box or a bottle. The Flemish names ‘galgenjong’, ‘galgenaas’ or ‘duivelsjong’ are difficult to translate correctly, but clearly refer to its origin, i.e. the gallows and the devil. But this ‘object’ has also a certain affinity with the English ‘familiar spirit’. It is the result of a pact with the devil and it gives its owners magical powers. Contrary to the ‘familiars’ in English witch trials, it is said that generally men own it. One can only get rid of it by having it stolen or with the help of a clergyman. According to some German texts, one can only sell it at a lower price than what one paid for it originally. Some storytellers claim that a galgenjong is to be given a drop of its owner’s blood and changed like a baby on a daily basis. Illustrations and other sources tell that imposters shaped a mandrake root into a human or animal form and put this sub­stitute into a box in order to sell it to credulous people, promising them good luck, power and wealth. Although this magical creature is typically West-Flemish (and for some strange reason unknown in the eastern province of Limburg) the author man­aged to put this peculiar item into a broad perspective.



De ‘natuurlijke’ charme van meiliederen

Summary: The ‘natural’ charm of may-songs
More than a century ago, Pol De Mont (1857-1931), a pioneer in the folklore of Flanders, asked the readers of Volkskunde (1898-1899) to take a special interest in the customs of the month of May, still vivid in those days. People of all ages parti­cipated in a whole range of activities and enlivened them with all kinds of songs, with nature and love as prominent themes. Offering a branch with leaves, called mei, was the highlight of this cluster of rituals. According to the nature of the mei, it could send a positive message of joy as well as a negative one of sorrow. That is why some may-songs were rather pedantic, even religious and therefore evolved into spiritual songs.