Everyone welcome on Flemish national holiday
11 July 2006, BRUSSELS — Flanders celebrated its 'national' holiday on Tuesday with political speeches, flower-giving events and a day off for public-service workers.
11 July 2006
BRUSSELS — Flanders celebrated its 'national' holiday on Tuesday with political speeches, flower-giving events and a day off for public-service workers.
On the eve of the occasion, Premier Yves Leterme unveiled in Antwerp a new socio-economic programme for the Dutch-speaking region.
He said the policy would ensure Flanders remains one of the best-performing economic regions in Europe. He dubbed the plan "Flanders in action".
And the speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Norbert De Batselier, urged for both a solidarity contract between Flanders and Wallonia and greater recognition of regional differences.
The Flemish Community Holiday commemorates the Battle of the Golden Spurs at Groeningekouter near Kortrijk, where the Flemish defeated the knights of the King of France in 1302.
The Flemish victory assured the region's independence, preventing it from being swallowed up by the Kingdom of France.
And while it is not an official holiday, 11 July still gives many workers in Flanders a day off in the middle of the week.
Public servants working with the Flemish government, Flemish cities, municipalities and provinces did not need to work on Tuesday.
Bank workers also took the day off, but financial institutes were still open in Brussels and Wallonia. Hospitals were also operating on Sunday rosters.
For those unfortunates who had to work, street parties and events have been organised for Tuesday night.
The neighbourhood parties are funded by the Flemish government "because 11 July must be a party for everyone, of all the various colours and faiths", Culture Minister Culture Bert Anciaux said.
Reflecting the idea that the national holiday is for everyone, flowers were distributed to Antwerp, Brugge, Brussels, Diksmuide and Ghent on Tuesday.
The flowers were distributed by the Ijzerbedevaartcomité, meaning in English: Pilgrimage to the Yser Committee (which stages a pacifist and nationalist commemoration of the dead in World War I and II).
It was the 4th such time the flower distribution was staged in Flanders and this year it carried the message: "In Vlaanderen telt iedereen mee!" (Everyone counts in Flanders!)
The group wanted to raise awareness about social exclusion, urging Flanders to create a society which works to combat injustice, racism, discrimination, exclusion and violence.
The Wallonian community will celebrate its 'national' holiday in September. Belgium's national holiday is held on 21 July.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news