Lessines, the Historical Festival of the Festin 1583
At the end of the 16th century, a climate of permanent unrest was prevailing in the southern provinces of
the Netherlands. As a result, there were frequent incur- sions of troops coming from the north who looted
and burnt down our towns and villages. In 1583, as it had become usual, a troop of mercenaries arrived at
the gates of the town in order to loot it. After several attempts, the besiegers were vigorously fought
off by the inhabitants. A sally was then decided on in order to attack the enemy from the rear. This hazardous
mission was given to a company composed of the youngest militiamen and under Sebastien de Tramasure's command.
The undertaking was a complete success.
Since then, this historical feat of arms has been commemorated every year. Tradition also reports that the
day after the victory, Sebastien de Tramasure deposited his weapons at the feet of the Blessed Virgin's statue,
because the victory was believed to be due to her miraculous intercession.
From its past the town of Lessines has kept the fragance of authentic traditions like the "Festin", the
Penitents' procession and the popular feasts com- memorating the quarrymen of 1900. In remembrance of the
day when the town was liberated, the inha- bitants of Lessines and their guests live every 1st weekend of
September on a Renaissance note.
Dancers and troubadours, storytellers and enter- tainers invade the centre of the town so that the public
can revel. Magnificent processions, the Cheerful Entry, the artists and craftsmen's, Free Fair, shows and
animations are on these two days'agenda. With its 1000 walk-ons in period costumes, Lessines's "Festin" is a
very colourtul evocation of the Renais- sance feasts in the southern Netherlands.
As far as the origin of the French word "festin" is concerned, it is thought to be derived from the Flemish
word "vesting" which means "ramparts" and not from the festivities that followed the liberation of the town.
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