A. VAN DER ZEIJDEN
De actualiteit van tradities en het jaar van de tradities: een inleiding
Summary: Traditions have again become current topics: an introduction
The Dutch Year of Traditions is a nice occasion to explore the theme of traditions. Traditions are in. Marketing experts say that it has to do with the fact that we live in a retrospective decade, characterized by a strong need for continuity. In uncertain times (terrorism, financial crisis) people look for stability and they find it in traditions.
Science also shows a renewed interest in traditions. After a period of ‘clebunking, when the emphasis used to lie on `exposing’ the seemingly age-old traditions, the present generation has realized that traditions are more than just fake. Traditions play an important role in the process of cultural transfer. It is a heritage one wants to pass on because it is so important for the cultural identity of each of us.
A. VAN DER ZEIJDEN
Volkscultuur in het werk van romancier Hubert Lampo (1920-2006)
Summary: Tradition and popular culture in the works of Hubert Lampo (1920-2006)
The novelist Hubert Lampo, the best-known representative of Magic Realism in the Low Countries, published Wijlen Sarah Silbermann (The late Sarah Silbermann) in 1980. This book is more than just an exciting thriller. It is also very relevant for ethnologists, because Lampo combines his vast interest in the saga of the Grail with his search for the mythological origin of the carnival feast in Zoetelede (in reality the Flemish village of Zoutleeuw).
He shares his interpretation of carnival with the (old) mythological school of popular culture which goes back to the Grimms. From Lampo’s point of view carnival is an ancient tradition, `something ancient, something very authentic’, that keeps influencing our daily life, here and now, and even sheds a light on the depths of our soul. Whereas ethnologists abandoned long ago that mythological explanation for all kinds of folkloric expression, Hubert Lampo’s Wijlen Sarah Silbermann – as well as Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – proves that myth still plays an important role in popular imagination.
Het stripverhaal De Mysterieuze Mijn van Suske en Wiske en het voortleven van de historische heks Leyn Weckx.
Een schoolvoorbeeld van een ‘invented tradition’
Summary: The comic De Mysterieuze Mijn from Suske en Wiske and the living on of the historic witch Leyn Weckx. A dassic example of an `invented tradition’
The Flemish artist and scenarist Vandersteen and his successors used folktales as a source of inspiration in many of their comics. In this article one of these comics The Mysterieuze Mijn (The Mysterious Mine) (1990) is the object of study in order to find out how facts and fiction are integrated and how this comic hos contributed to remember the name of Leyn Weckx until now.
An important reason to study this album was the historic figure of Leyn Weckx, about whom many artides have been published because the original records which lead to her execution through burning in 1725 have been preserved.
A legend tells us that Leyn Weckx escaped during her transportation to the execution field and she disappeared in a well. In the course of the 20’h century she became known as the pitwitch as coalmines appeared in the landscape of Limburg in Flanders.
In the eighties of the 20’h century the link between the historic Leyn Weckx and the pitwitch was “officialized”. Many festivities were organised and until now Leyn Weckx is alive and well.
H. OP DE COUL
Limburg, de mythe.
Hoe het verzinnen van tradities bijdraagt tot de vormgeving van een gewenste Limburse identiteit
Summary: Limburg, the Myth. How inventing of traditions contributes to the design of a desired Limburg identity
The author gives his view of a number of stages and events in Dutch Limburg making use of the concept of `invented tradition’ as used by Hobsbawm, Leerssen a.o. This province, put together in 1815 by politicians and officials, is known for a striking ‘Limburg feeling’. This can be accounted for by the idea of a `thought up’ community for which the cultural fundament was laid by the catholic church in founding schools and teaching priests in Limburg. Later on the regional broadcasting station played its part by conceiving programs in the regional dialect and organizing and transmitting big events in the province, among others carnival ceremonies. During the carnival period in particular a lot of traditions are invented that strengthen the local solidarity.
The author relates the – unsuccessful – efforts to create a new and modern citizen, made during the last century in the coal industry area in South Limburg. Only when the reminiscences of the coal mines were rigorously wiped out a renewed and happy – so it seems – quest for the roots of the Limburg people occurred.
It’s the author’s opinion that intellectuals and artists can help to reinforce the feeling of self-confidence of individuals and groups of people by using the concept of `invented tradition’.
Halloween in Nederland
Summary: Halloween in the Netherlands
In a world of shifting boundaries in expressive and festive culture, Halloween was taken over from the Unites States in the Netherlands, like in many other countries, since the early 1990s. It was adopted especially as a ’theme’ for fancy dress parties in disco’s and bars, schools, and children’s and youth clubs, and less as a new calendar ritual. Grim Halloween processions or an American-style heli-house can also be seen. In the sometimes elaborate and beautiful representation of ugliness and horror the main attraction and fun of Halloween seem to reside for participants. The author argues that this eager embrace of the sinister testifies, in an inverted way, to a growing sensibility in respect of accidents, surgery and death. Simultaneously, however, the deliberate show of ‘bad taste’ is not intended to be taken seriously. Precisely this ambivalence may offer an explanation of Halloween’s appeal.
Het Ossenfeest in (B.) – Limburg
Summary: The ox celebration in (Belgian) Limburg
The `oxen’ are mainly 30-year-old male singles in the north-eastern part of Limburg. Their names have been recorded in the ‘ox book’ since the beginning of the 20d’ century. An organizing-committee decorates the house the ox lives in and there are satirical poems. A very heavy ox (often a concrete one) is only taken away from the door after payment of a ransom (food and especially lots of drinks). The number of ox celebrations has been gradually increasing, thanks to word of mouth, to newspaper ads, boards and the internet. There are also similor celebrations of 30-year-old singles in The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, but the ox celebrations in the N-E of Limburg are more numerous and more intense. Southern and West Limburg have only sporadically ox celebrations and their number has remained limited.
Three elements are obvious: drinking, looking for a mate and especially mocking the `ox’ without a partner. That is why this ox celebration, strongly present in this restricted geographic area, is considered a modern version of charivari.
M. VAN DEN BERG
Tussen verleden en toekomst
Reflecties over de omgang met traditie(s)
Summary: Between the past and the future: reflections on how to deal with tradition(s)
Traditions are regularly returning rituals, practices and customs that create the feeling of belonging to the same community. They can be local or universal, age-old or recent, not conspicuous or festive. Many traditions are not as old as sometimes believed. Besides, they are often invented by individuals, organisations and institutions.
Traditions come and fade away. Adaptation and transformation are more essential for the survival of a tradition than its deliberate fixation. In order to try and protect e.g. immaterial heritage, including traditions, scientists agree that it should be a dynamic process. Although it may be interesting to explore the origin and background of a tradition, in the end what matters for those involved is interpreting the meaning, relevance and function of what is passed on to them. Some Flemish people still have romantic, nostalgie and even nationalistic feelings and are less open to foreign influence and innovations. Present-day ethnology recognizes not only the importance of tradition(s) for the present and the future but also pay more and more attention to new trends, especially as regards urban and multicultural society.
Tradities, nostalgie en beeld(ver)vorming
Summary: Nostalgia and distortion of tradition
Traditions can be centuries old or relatively new. They are often passed on from generation to generation and are not necessarily statie, but can be dynamic. Traditions are frequently nostalgie. Nostalgia involves looking back to an idealized past. The phenomenon plays a part in identity formation and can help people see purpose in their lives. Nostalgie traditions are not necessarily conservative. Progressive people can be nostalgie traditionalists is some sense as well.
Nostalgia is partly about the past of entire generations and is connected to popular culture (think of the idolization of movie icons and music stars from the past). It is also possible to develop nostalgic feelings for a period one hasn’t lived through. One can be longing for an Arcadian version of the past, in which life was supposed to be less complex and more wholesome.
Cherished nostalgic traditions are often more distorted than invented in the Hobsbawmian sense. This looking back to a longed for past can involve creativity. Nostalgie remembering can also be a reflexive activity, in which one thinks about the relationship between identity, memory and personal history.
De projectie van traditieloosheid
Summary: Wishing tradition away
Is it really irrational, as modern people tend to think, to entrust oneself to the guiding hand of tradition, which promises to help us discover what is relevant and real in a way we could never do on our own? Even scholars studying culture are not immune to an allergy to tradition (even to the word!) that can be traced to the breach with tradition in the name of reason. Reflection on the role and function of tradition is further hindered by the fact that modern praxis corresponds more and more to an instrumental logic.
Relying on Maurice Blondel’s philosophy, a view is offered of tradition as an irreplaceable means for exploring and assimilating reality, induding ourselves. We may be unable to stabilize of totalize the ingredients of the opaque world that tradition makes us accept as real, we may not be able to get to the bottom of what we reflect and see reflected in it; but that is no reason to exclude all this from our definition of the real.
Characteristic of our culture is the looming of a gap between the experiences mediated by tradition and the image of reality mediated by our thinking. This doesn’t make us any freer, but exposes us to exploitation of our nostalgia for the traditional and to the erosion of practices which we value, but don’t know how to defend rationally.
R. PINXTEN en K. DE MUNTER
Tradities zijn verandering
Summary: Tradition is change
In the standard view the notion of tradition is tightly linked with concepts of constancy, inalterability and the ensuing rights and duties. In the present contribution we analyse this concept from the point of view of researchers who are rather more familiar with oral cultures. We state that concepts of time and temporality can be very different in these cultures. In the past, we suggest, we were misled to some extent by the western notion of time and the attached so-called opposition between our ‘warm’ or historical culture and the non-western `cold’ traditions, as voiced by Lévi-Strauss. With S. Kauffman’s complexity theory applied to culture and tradition, we offer a new approach.