Belgians Celebrate Cat Festival With a Dark Past

Book us a ticket to Belgium! Revelers in the western city of Ypres spent a recent weekend celebrating the magic and folklore of cats. The two-day festival, called Kattenstoet, takes place every three years.

But it hasn't always been a fun-filled celebration featuring gigantic cat floats. When local pagans turned to Christianity, the statue of their cat god became a symbol of the devil, Stars and Stripes explains. Felines came to represent witches and demons, and by the 15th century, the Ypres population had adopted a dark festival: To symbolize the exorcism of demons, the town jester flung cats out of high towers.

Fortunately, the practice was outlawed in 1817. In 1955 the city adopted a new (and much saner) festival to celebrate cats. Today, Kattenstoet includes music, floats, dance, art ... and, OK, they still throw cats from towers but they are toy cats this time.

What do you think? Would you ever check out Kattenstoet for yourself?


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