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Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Chapter VII: Belgian characteristics and customs,   pp. [81]-97 PDF (2.5 MB)

Page 95

with them an immense pole, usually a balsam, with a tuft
of green in the top and gaily ornamented with ribbons and
streamers. After this is firmly planted at his front gate,
they go to shake hands with the office holder who stands
wreathed in smiles, hospitably dispensing refreshments,
both wet and dry.
    Another more serious custom is the church procession-
al. There are several processions held during the year,
the most important being the one in spring held just before
Ascension Day. This is called Rogation Procession, so
called because the participants are supposed to sing litanies
of special supplication. The order of the procession is as
follows: First comes the cross bearer in surplice and cas-
sock bearing the cross. If the cross is not too big, this is
carried by one of the acolytes of the altar.  Then follow
little girls in white strewing flowers on the highway. Then
comes the priest wearing sacerdotal robes of dignity and
carrying the blessed sacrament on a throne. He is follow-
ed by the choir singing hymns. Next come the women
and finally the men. In former years the procession start-
ed from the church and proceeded to the nearest wayside
chapel and then returned. The first generation of Belgians
was very musical and often used to participate in the pro-
cession with diverse instruments on which were played
many beautiful selections of sacred music. Now, on ac-
count of the increased traffic, the procession is confined to
the cemetery, and there is very little instrumental music.
     In different parts of the Belgian settlement may be
seen little wayside shrines or chapels, although not as many
as formerly, the new state and county highway construction
having ruthlessly pushed some of them into oblivion. They
are little places of prayer fitted out with an altar and

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