Sprangpressessioun – Dancing procession of Echternach
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since November 2010, the Echternach dancing procession is a Catholic pilgrimage that takes place on Whit Tuesday. This year it takes place on 22 May 2018.
This day after Whit Monday, which is a bank holiday in Luxembourg, thousands of Catholic pilgrims and spectators come together to Echternach, a city located north of Luxembourg City, to witness this very special procession, as it is done by dancing or rather hopping for the purists.
Accompanied by musicians playing violin or flute, the pilgrims hop for nearly 3 hours in the religious district around the Basilica of Echternach. Holding each others with white handkerchiefs and dressed in white and black, the pilgrims celebrate St Willibrord (657-739), founder of the Abbey of Echternach and patron saint of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The crypt of the Basilica contains his remains.
In rows of 5 or 6 people, the faithful jump left and right, while advancing towards the tomb of Saint Willibrord, on a rhythmic music tune. This music has become popular as this unique procession was considered as intangible cultural heritage in 2010. Christians who cannot provide the effort required to hop for hours, can follow the procession by singing or praying.
Originally, the procession was created to heal people suffering from the disease of the dance of Saint Guy. It usually affects children between 5 and 15 years old and is characterised by clumsy and uncontrolled movements.
More than ten thousand people attend the pilgrimage, attracted by this unique and fabulous show.
From 2019, Whit Tuesday will be a “Day of Cultural Heritage and Luxembourgish Traditions”. As a result, teachers of primary and secondary schools will be able to attend the processions with their pupils, if they wish so.
Do you want to discover other Luxembourgish traditions? Click here.