It’s Labor Day in Belgium, a holiday of the socialist labor movement.  So … it’s time for a parade!  Most of the shops are closed and the people are open.

It took awhile but I eventually intercepted the route.  I couldn’t figure out why the street I chose wasn’t full of parade goers.  Simple … I was on the wrong street.

You can see the flagbearers at the front.  They’re having a great time.  Next, here comes a marching band.  Listen to the drums, the brass, the woodwinds.  Makes the feet want to lift off.

So many banners were held across the street, followed by families, dogs and work colleagues.  Sometimes it felt like I was in the parade.  I felt unified with these folks, even without their language and history.

Humans living on the parade route opened their windows and waved at the marchers.  Above or below, we walked together.

I’m sitting on the terrace of De Postiljon, a café (pub) on the Vrijdagmarkt, a public square in Ghent centrum.  There is so much red in folks’ clothing.  One fellow wears a red braided rope around his neck.  This is the Gentse Strop.

The name “Gentse Strop” refers to the nickname of the people of Ghent: noose carriers.  This nickname comes from the humiliation of the people of Ghent by Emperor Charles V, who had them go through the city with a noose because they revolted against a tax imposed by him.

Today the Gentse Strop is a symbol of resistance, of standing up for your rights.

Speeches are resonating across the Vrijdagmarkt

I don’t understand the words

I understand the spirit

The band starts playing some anthem.  The people in the picture are singing!

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