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Belgian comics played a major role in the development of European comics. Comics is "an integral part of Belgian culture" and one of the arts where Belgium has had an international and enduring impact in the 1900s. Among the well known characters are Tintin, the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Spirou and Fantasio. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Belgian cartoons"]

Most comics tell stories, either brief ones (anecdotes and jokes) or longer ones. Before the era of mass media and cartoons, tales served in part for entertainment, in part for inspiration. Tales, songs, parades and epic poetry tell of the past and serve a continuity of identity too. [Cf. Jerome Bruner (1966) on cultural sides to folklore tales]

The Low Countries

Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, and share a long period of history as well as folklore. Belgium's two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia.


Straddling the cultural boundary between Latin Europe and Germanic Europe, Belgium is home to Dutch-speakers (about 59%), mostly Flemish, and French-speakers (about 41%), mostly Walloons, and also a small group of German-speakers. They carry with them their traditions. Some they have in common. Some they have in common with neighbouring countries, especially, France, Netherland and Germany. Since folk tales and legends tend to be shareware, and their origins may not be all clear, there is perhaps no neat solution to "What is a Belgian tale?" If a tale is historical and about Belgians, it may well originate in Belgium, provided it is not of ancient import. At any rate, French and "Dutch" tales are there in Belgium too.

For many years the Low Countries have been divided into three countries. Historically the term Low Countries implied all land downstream the big rivers including parts of modern-day northern France and western Germany. Stories from the large Low Countries area before it was divided into the Benelux countries of Belgium, Netherland and Luxembourg - and surrounding areas in Germany and France - are in part a common heritage of Belgians and neighbouring peoples. Belgian history takes us back to such as the heroes of Franks, Charles Martel and Charlemagne, and to pre-Christian times.

Flemings in the North, and Two Meanings of "Dutch"

Today the term "Dutch tales" encompasses stories from Flanders, the northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium too, says Vanessa Joosen in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales [2008:282]

She points out, further, that the collecting of "Dutch folktales" started in the nineteenth century. Current knowledge about the folktale in the Netherlands (in contrast to Flanders) is rather patchy. Frisian tales and Flemish fairy tales were often collected for romantic and nationalistic purposes. The tale of magic is by far the most popular of all types in Flanders and is often combined with elements from "Schwankmärchen" (humorous folktales), legends and didactic tales. And humour dominates in the Flemish folk stories, and also in wonder tales and animal stories. A collection of Flemish folk tales, collected by Jean de Bosschère, is included on the following pages.

As for origins, most folktales told in Dutch probably did not originate in the Dutch-speaking areas but were borrowed from books and other cultures. All of this goes to say that Belgians and Dutch people have tales in common, that the origins of many tales is uncertain, and that it could be a matter of preference to call a tale Dutch or Belgian if it appears in both countries, albeit with a different local flavour. [Op cit: 283]

By way of example, some of the "Dutch" fairy tales of William Griffis (1918) might be as much Belgian as Dutch - such as "Brabo and the Giant", "Prince Spin Head And Miss Snow White" and "Santa Klaas and Black Pete". Other tales are in part about the same things, for example the Dutch "the Kabouters and the Bells" and the Belgian "Up and Down and Up Again".

As mentioned already, folklore of the Low Countries is often referred to just as Dutch folklore, which makes for some blurring. And legends may be placed in a variety of settings. [Cf. Wikipedia, s.v. "Folklore of the Low Countries"]

Flemish tales of the northern part of Belgium: Vertellingen uit Vlaanderen

Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen, French: Flandre) is the Dutch-speaking and quite independent northern part of Belgium. During the late Middle Ages Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent, Bruges and Ypres) made it one of the richest and most urbanised parts of Europe. A refined culture developed, with impressive attainments in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy (Wikipedia).

Flemish folklore includes epics, legends, fairy tales and oral traditions, traditionally written or spoken in Dutch. The folk tales have peculiar Flemish traits and shown the creative imagination of the Flanders folk. Flemish folk tales have been collected in various way and in various parts of Flanders.

The Belgian writer and painter Jean de Bosschère; (1878-1953) translated tales from Flemish collections, and got them published in England and the USA as Beasts and Men (1918).

André Henri Pierre de Ridder collected another book of tales from Flanders: Kerstvertellingen uit Vlaanderen. The book was published in Dutch one year after World War I was over, as Kerstvertellingen uit Vlaanderen (Christmas Tales from Flanders). (Amsterdam: Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1919). An English translation of the then unpublished work is named Christmas Tales of Flanders (London: William Heinemann, 1917). The collection was translated into English by M. C. O'Connor Morris, and published in London in 1917.

Most of the Christmas Tales are selected from the Zoo Vertellen De Vlamingen. Ten Believe En Gerieve Van De Waalsche Schooljeugd, Die Gaarne Nederlandsch Wil Leeren. by Karel Maria Polydoor (Pol) Carolus de Mont (1857-1931) and Alfons de Cock (1850-1921), a book published by Vanderpoorten, Gent, in 1903. And some tales in the Christmas Tales are from the Brabantsch sagenboek of Isidoor Teirlinck by André de Ridder (Gent: Alfons Siffer, 1912)

Walloons in the South

About 3.2 million Walloons live in Belgium's southern provinces. They speak French and a number of regional dialects (eastern, central and western "Walloon"). Their culture contrasts with that of the Flemings in the northern part of the country. The Walloons have close cultural ties to the French. The folklore is one of the things that link Walloons to the French people.

Walloon folklore includes many tales that involve the devil. Families visit cemeteries to clean the tombs of deceased relatives on November 1. Some rural villagers believe in the powers of folk healers. Walloons make elaborate costumes and giant figures used in festivals and processions. The town of Binche is famous for its carnival festivities in the weeks before Lent. The best-known part of the annual celebration is the Dance or March of the Gilles, where over 1,000 people dressed in brightly coloured, padded costumes throw oranges at the spectators. Folk art can also be seen in puppet and marionette theatres.

Intermingling: The French Charles Deulin (1827-77) was born in a small French town near the Belgian border and rose from humble origins to write three important collections of fairy tales, which in English are called Beer-Drinker's Tales (1868), Tales of King Cambrinus (1874), and Village Tales (1875). Widely read in their day, Deulin's tales are distinguished by their strong regional flavour: Low Country settings and customs provide the backdrop for traditional fairy-tale stories and motifs.

This goes to say that some French tales are Low Country tales and vice versa. Farmers and villagers in France and southern Belgium could easily share folk tales, and that the conditions were good enough for it to happen.

Summary so far

  1. Some tales are presented as Belgian. (In a book by William Griffis)
  2. Some tales are Flemish (and thus a part of Belgian lore), as the Folk Tales of Flanders (1918), collected by Jean de Bosschère.
  3. Some tales called "Dutch" are Belgian too (such as tales in two books by William Griffis).
  4. Some French tales from the borders of Belgium are Belgian too. Such tales have been collected by Charles Deulin.
  5. Belgium shares at least one folktale with western Germany. Compare "Karl Katz" and "Peter Klaus the Goatherd". "Karl Katz" was retold by Washington Irving as the story of Rip Van Winkle.

To decide on the exact origin of many tales in the former Low Countries may not be easy to do.



From Gallia Belgica to Belgium

Belgium is one of the nations that founded the European Union. The nation of Belgium became independent in 1830. Today it hosts the EU's headquarters and also several other main international organisations, such as NATO.

About eleven million people live in Belgium. There is the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The country's two main groups of are the Flemings and Walloon.

Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and some districts surrounding them were known as the Low Countries. The region was called Belgica in Latin because the Roman province Gallia Belgica covered much the same area. When Caesar fought with ancestors of Belgians he called them the Belgii and declared them "the bravest of all." The Belgae was a mix of Celtic and Germanic people.

Between the 800s and 1100s AD, Walloon and Flemish cultures continued developing along separate lines. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 1500s, Belgium was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. But from the 1500s, the Walloons and Flemings came under the rule of Spain, the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy, the French under Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), and the Netherlands. Both Walloons and Flemings then joined in a revolt against Dutch rule. The new Kingdom of Belgium was forged in 1830 as a constitutional monarchy. Throughout the 1800s, the Walloons held most of the political and economic power in Belgium. The rich natural resources of their region, Wallonia, brought the mines, mills, and factories of the Industrial Revolution to the region early. French was the language of government, law, the Roman Catholic Church, and education.

After World War II (1939–45), Wallonia's traditional heavy industries (especially steelmaking) declined, its coal mines, steel, glass, and textiles industries closed.

In the 1960s, the Flemings and Walloons were given increased control over their respective regions, and in 1993 Flanders and Wallonia each became self-governing regions of the Belgian Kingdom. Later it was known as "Battlefield of Europe" because of the many battles that were fought in the area by European powers.

[Wikipedia, s.v. "Belgium"]

Belgians in America

From Belgium came the people who made the first immigrant homes in the four Middle States.

In the 1500s, the Netherlands covered a part of North of France and Lorraine, Belgium, Luxembourg and the present Netherlands. The inhabitants were called the Belgians, and the maps represented the country in the shape of a lion: the "Leo Belgicus". In this period, Antwerp-born Willem Usselinx learnt to know that much of Spain's wealth was coming from its American colonies, and he convinced the Dutchmen to settle in colonies in the New World in order to fight the Spaniards.

From 1615, the region between Virginia and New-England was equally named New-Belgium (Novum Belgium, Novo Belgio, Nova Belgica, Novi Belgii) or New-Netherlands.

In May 1624 the ship "Nieu Nederlandt" arrived in sight of Manhattan Island. The vessel carried about thirty Belgian families. Most of them were Walloons. A few Flemings were there too. In America, eight men were left at the lower part of Manhattan and erected a fort on the site of the present Battery Park there. Four couples and eight men were sent to the Delaware River, where they built a fort near the present town of Gloucester, New Jersey). Two families and six men were sent to the Fresh River - now Connecticut -, where a small fort was built on the site of the present city of Hartford. About eighteen families remained on the ship "Nieu Nederlandt" and proceeded up the Hudson. They finally landed near the present city of Albany (capital of the State of New York). Those first steps in the colonization of this territory were actually the follow up of a process that started a century earlier.

The first white children born in New York State were of Belgian parents. In 1624, some Walloons settled in New York and New Jersey, before the Dutch mothers and fathers, boys and girls. And Walloons were the first farmers in the Middle States. When New Netherland received a civil government, it was named Nova Belgica, or New Belgium.

Jessé de Forest was one of those Walloons who emigrated with his own and other Walloon families to the New World. While living in Holland for a time, he met English Pilgrims who later became passengers of the Mayflower.

In August 1622, after years of efforts, Jessé got the authorization to emigrate with other families to the West-Indies. His daughter Rachel and his sons Isaac and Henri joined New-Belgium ten years later. Several seals of this period show that the territories surrounding the future New York were called New-Belgium. For example, the seal of the New-Amsterdam from 1654 mentions "Sigillum Amstellodamensis in Novo Belgio".

In May 1626, Pierre Minuit, governor of New-Belgium, on behalf of the Dutch West India Corporation bought the Island of Manhattes (now: Manhattan Island) from Indians- probably the Lenapes - in exchange for trade goods, it says in an old document. The total value was about sixty guilders or about 25 US dollars. A period document mentions the purchase. The original letter is in the archives of the Netherlands. It was written by the merchant Pieter Schagen to the directors of the West India Company (owners of New Netherlands) and is dated 5 November 1626. He mentions that the settlers "have bought the island of Manhattes from the savages for a value of 60 guilders." It has been suggested that the Indians may have thought they were sharing it, not selling it, for the Indians regarded land, like air and water, as something you could use but not own or sell. [1]

Be that as it may, Pierre Minuit was a Walloon, born in Ohain, Brabant. He thought that a harmonious mix and integration of Native Indian cultures and theirs was preferable to throwing out of the weakest or less gun-supported one. He was called back to Europe in 1632.

Settlers lived under strict rules. Many got a Dutch "camouflage name", like Rapalje for Rapaille or Minnewit for Minuit. The settlers were also forbidden to weave wool or linen, make cloth or any other textile, at the risk of being banished or prosecuted as perjurers. The covert aim was to protect a monopoly for the imports from Holland.

The signs of the Walloons and Flemish people in New York are many and often unknown. For example, the Gowanus Bay west of Brooklyn is named after the native village of Pierre Minuit. The Wallabout Bay north of Brooklyn comes from the Dutch "Waal bocht" (Walloon Bay). The Hoboken district of New York, comes from a municipality near Antwerp in Flanders. Communipaw in Jersey City, is contracted from Community of Pauw: Michel De Pauw, native of Ghent in Flanders, had also bought Staten Island from the Indians in 1630.

Some imagine that a Peter Stuyvesant founded New York. But he only arrived in 1647, twenty-three years after the first settlers landed. The actual founders of New York were Walloons and Flemish Protestants. In 1924, three hundred years after these first Walloons first settled in New York, a monument was erected in their honour on the site of Battery Park, in the southern part of Manhattan.

[Main source: New York and Its Origins. Legend and Reality. [◦Link]

Walloons at home

Walloons. Walloon manners are generally formal and polite. Conversations are marked by frequent exchanges of compliments and repeated handshaking. Relatives greet each other by shaking hands, hugging, or kissing each other on the cheek. A hug is a common greeting among friends. Men and women or two female friends may exchange kisses on the cheek. Most Walloons are city dwellers and live in multi-storey brick row houses with large kitchens and gardens. Walloon houses, like those of other Belgians, often include an area used for a family business.

Walloon cuisine is derived from the French cuisine, but tends to be spicier and higher in calories. The main meal of the day is eaten at noon. Breakfast and supper may include the regional cheese, makèye, \on slices of bread. Soup is often served as a first course for the midday and evening meals. Walloons drink a lot of coffee. At four in the afternoon a coffee break called a goûter is common - coffee and a piece of pie. Walloons also like to drink and brew beer.

Many Walloons enjoy gathering with friends in neighbourhood cafes after work. [2]

Stamina of Belgians. In the Walloon Belgium there is the hill country of the Ardennes, also called the Ardennes Forest. It is a region of wide forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Ardennes"]

In earlier times, farmers in the Ardennes could make more money by raising horses, for the pasture was rich, and the horse breed was big and strong. Ardennes horses were not as big, slow and heavy as Flemish cart horses, but could gallop while harnessed to heavy loads. They had staying power, stamina. Lots of Ardennes horses were used for farm work. [Wikipedia. s.v. "Ardennes horse"]

Ardennes farmers worked hard all day, outdoors on the farm in summer, and tended the cows and horses in winter, but also had plenty of time to give to their big, fat hares, and in some cases, a dozen or two of carrier pigeons too.

Down on the plain was the city of Ghent where two rivers, the Lys and the Scheldt, join, with a lot of canals.

Legends of Technology

In many legends prominent people and extremely useful fixtures of the country or countryside appear along with more or less miraculous elements. We get to know about them and perhaps claim some of them as our own, through stories - preferably good stories that bring salient points in a delighting wrapping.


Where is a mature country without buildings of brick and stone? There is a Belgian tale about how elves gave humans the idea of making bricks for buildings and bell towers.

Now, the brick is an ancient, great invention. Ceramic brick, or fired brick, was used as early as 4500 BC in early Indus Valley cities. The technology of brick-making is imported. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Brick"]


As for the windmill, compassionate elves made it, according to "The Enchanted Windmill".

Now, the Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria in the first century AD made a wind-driven wheel to power a machine. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Windmill"].

Wooden shoes, clogs

There is also a Dutch tale about wooden shoes, clogs. They are very helpful in the soil and toil of farmers and many others, also on the factory floors, since they protect the feet well. Traditional clogs are "folkloric footwear". Wooden clogs have been in the Low Countries for hundreds of years. Wood has been a rather cheap material - it was and is easy to make moisture proof shoes that are easy to wash. Wooden clogs may protect one's feet well, and be good for throwing   In the Low Countries they have filled straws in the shoes to make them proof against cold weather, much durable and comfortable to wear.

Today, two to three pairs of wooden clogs can be made with the help of machinery in a minute. But a pair of wooden shoes of quality takes one or two days to make, even up to a week.

In the tale, a sacred oak tree talks to and encourages a sad carpenter, and then an elf and a kabouter make the first pair of wooden shoes for him. They are polished wooden clogs. But that is not the origins of clogs, however. This type of footwear, made wholly or in part from wood, is used worldwide. Their form may vary by culture, but within a culture the form often has remained unchanged for centuries.

Some types of clogs are considered fashion wear today, such as Swedish clogs. Clogs are also used for some forms of dancing where the sound to clogs is part of the design.

Now, the origin of wooden footwear in Europe is not precisely known, but the oldest surviving wooden footwear in Europe is found in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and dates from 1230 and 1280. These finds look very similar to the wooden shoes as they are still worn in The Netherlands. What is more, the shape of the footwear, as well as its production process has showed great local and regional diversity.

[Wikipedia, s.v. "Klomp"; "Clog (shoe)", ]

Pile drivers

Pile drivers for better foundations for buildings had a kabouter for its origin, in the same tale. "Soon there rose large cities, with splendid mansions and town halls. As high towards heaven as the cathedrals and towers in other lands . . her brick churches rose in the air. On top of the forest trees, driven deep into the sand and clay, dams and dykes were built, that kept out the ocean," writes Griffis.

Now, there are many claims as to who invented the pile driver, and there is evidence that a device that compares with it was used in Scotland as early as 5000 years ago. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Pile driver"]


Clogs, windmills, trees uses as foundation piles, and bricks - these have been typical fixtures in large parts of the area for centuries, and legends have grown around them. It could well be that stories that activate the imagination or fancy help young ones accommodate with items of technology, and get used to them.

Forms of Belgian folklore

Belgium at peace grew rich in art and architecture, in fairy lore, hero lore, in traditions of valour and being industrious.

Belgian folklore is dominated by festivals. There, and in its folklore otherwise, we may meet with legendary people; legendary creatures; mythological deities. Belgian folklore also contains folk songs; folklore from the Middle Ages; folk tales; epic poetry; tales of saints and miracles; romance; animal fables and folk tales, and there are legendary places.

Festivals. Folklore plays a key role in Belgium's cultural life. The dominant forms today are amusing processions and parades, and local festivals, and are diverse. By way of example, the town of Andenne holds a festival each year three weeks before Easter known as the "Bear Festival" to commemorate that nine-years-old Charles Martel (ca. 688 - 741) with his hammer killed a bear that was terrorizing the region. The bear also features on the town's coat of arms. Two thousand people participate in the parade, in costume, and 250 Teddy bears are thrown to the public from the town hall. [Wikipedia, "Charles Martel"]

Romances. The first written folklore of the Low Countries are romances of the Carolingians. The romances usually are about Charlemagne ("Karel" in Dutch). Charlemagne was most likely born in Herstal, Wallonia, where his father was born, a town close to Liège in modern day Belgium. He descended from Charles Martel ("the Hammer") and in time became the emperor of a large part of Western Europe. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Charlemagne"]

Poem example. Charles and Elegast is a Dutch poem that some scholars think was written toward the end of the 1100s or in the 1200s. It is a Frankish romance of the exemplary king, Charlemagne, and his friend Elegast. Elegast can talk to animals and may be an elf. The two go out and do away with a traitor to Charlemagne. That is what the poem is about.

Animal fables. Belgium shares in the fables of Reynard, a trickster fox. The Reynard fables have originated in Alsace-Lorraine it is presumed, but the fables of the trickster fox spread to other regions of Europe too, if not all of Europe. The Dutch version is considered a masterpiece. The animals in the Dutch version include Bruun the Bear, Tybeert the Cat and Grimbeert the Badger. [Evans 1921; Wikipedia, s.v. "Reynard"; "Category:Belgian folklore"]

Folk tales. Tales say the Low Countries were once covered with forests. Oaks were considered the foremost among them. The oak tree was held in regard as a life giving and medicinal tree. The ancients established that trees were filled with good spirits and kept the land firm. Without the, the country would be washed away by water and floods.

Folk tradition from the Middle Ages are strong on tales about flooded cities and the sea. And there are legends about sunken cities lost to epic floods. In some flood legends, the church bells or clock bells of sunken cities still can be heard ringing underwater. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Folklore of Belgium"; cf. "Doggerland"]

A Legacy Rooted in a Dim Past

Old mythology shining through. Much folklore of the Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg has its roots in the pre-Christian Gaulish (Gallo-Roman) and Germanic cultures before the Franks Christianised them in the Early Middle Ages.

Old Dutch mythology can mean myths told in Old Dutch language - many of the myths in this language are ancient and part of larger movements across Europe, such as Roman mythology and Germanic mythology.

Pre-Christian traditions of veneration of oak trees, springs, wooden groves and woods native to the Low Countries survived into the Middle Ages. Most names of ancient gods and goddesses in this region come from Germanic origins, particularly in the North. Many of the deities are the same as West Germanic deities, especially in the north: Wodan is Dutch for Woden/Odin, the god of war and leader of the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt was retold in Dutch with Wodan leading under different guises, such as Derk with his dogs; Derk with his boar; the glowing horse; Henske with his dogs. Donar is Dutch for Thor, the god of thunder, riding across the sky with a magical hammer in his hand, fighting giants and a horrible snake. The legend of how the Uddeler Lake and Bleeke Lake were formed offers dramatic glimpses of the Germanic god of thunder.

Other ancient deities are Druidic, Celtic and Gallo-Roman, especially in the south and throughout Flanders: Erecura the goddess of the earth, Góntia of Ghent (in Belgium) is a local goddess, and Rosmerta is a goddess of fertility.

In Dutch the days of the week are named after Germanic gods and they correspond roughly to the Roman deities that the days are named after.

Some deities have been regional or specific to one clan.

Sacred trees. In 1918, William Elliot Griffis published Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks. Among them the story of "The Legend of the Wooden Shoe" begins with traditional beliefs that contain fragments of old Druidic mythology retold for children. Excerpts:

In years long gone   millions of good fairies came down from the sun and went into the earth. There, they changed themselves into roots and leaves, and became trees. There were many kinds of these, as they covered the earth, but the pine and birch, ash and oak, were the chief ones   The fairies that lived in the trees bore the name of Moss Maidens, or Tree "Trintjes" . . .

The oak was the favourite tree   Under its branches, near the trunk, people laid their sick, hoping for help from the gods.   Even more wonderful, as medicine for the country itself, the oak had power to heal   the oak, with its mighty roots, held the soil firm.

Characters in Belgian folklore

From the Wild Hunt to Santa Claus. The mythology of Wodan on the Wild Hunt sailing through the sky, is thought to have been one of the tales that changed into tales of Christian Sinterklaas, or Santa Claus, travelling the sky.

The Witte Wieven, or Wittewijven, are spirits of "wise women". Stories of them date back at least to the 600s. In some places they were known as Juffers or Joffers ("ladies"). Historically, the witte wieven are thought to be wise women, herbalists and medicine healers. They had a high status in the communities. In some localities the mythological witte wieven were described as "Alfen" or "Alven". Early medieval literature described the witte wieven like pranksters and pests. Later Christian teaching taught they are ghost witches to avoid.

Jacob Grimm mentions them in Deutsche Mythologie (Vol 2, 1876:808) as the Dutch variant of the Germanic weisse frauen: "The people of Friesland, Drenthe and the Netherlands have just as much to tell of their written wijven or juffers in hills and caverns ... though here they get mixed up with elvish personages."

These Dutch "women of wits" (wise women) are similar to völva, herbalists and wise women in life.

Kabouter - like its German namesake, Klabauter or kobold, is a gnome or leprechaun - an earth spirit that is akin to the Irish Leprechaun, Scandinavian tomte (nisse), and the Scottish brownie.

Short, strong workers, kabouters are said to have built the first bell towers in the Low Countries. In Low Countries' folklore, kabouters are also tiny men who live underground or in mushrooms, or spirits who help in the home. The males have long, full beards and wear tall, pointed red hats. They are generally shy of humans, but in The Legend of the Wooden Shoes, an old Dutch folktale, a kabouter takes part in teaching a Dutch man how to make wooden shoes, and goes on to show him how to make pile drivers: and by driving tree trunks upside down into the ground, the Dutch, and possibly neighbours too, got steady foundations for houses.

Wappers. A legend that started in the 1500s and is well known in Antwerp in other Flemish cities, is about Lange Wapper, a giant who irritates or provokes people. Lange Wapper likes to live near the sea, near rivers or canals. He can make himself so tall that he can move from one town to another with a single giant leap. Lange Wapper uses tricks to approach women to get their breast milk. In front of Het Steen in Antwerp he has a statue.

Other wappers, then, are presumably water-fond spirits, they too.

Elves. Elves are supernatural creatures in Germanic mythology and folklore. They are beings with magical skills, and capable of either helping or hindering people. The moss maidens, who appear in Old Dutch and Southern Germanic folklore, were known as tree spirits or wood elves.

Water spirits and the nix. In rivers and springs spirits have often been seen. The German Belgians call them Neckers. These spirits sometimes sang most beautiful melodies in chorus; sometimes, like women, they were seen arranging their hair in the river. They have also been known to talk with men, and to play all sorts of games. - Near Ghent a little old man has often been seen on the water of the Scheldt. He was a Necker (Nix), and was constantly sighing and moaning. Two children once, who were playing on the river bank, saw him coming towards them, and ran away. Then the Necker cried piteously. He harmed none. If any person asked him the cause of his sorrow, he would fetch a deep sigh and disappear. [Thorpe 1851:198-99]


Belgian folklore, folk tales of Belgia, folklore of Belgium, Literature  

Bosschère, Jean de, coll, ill. Beasts and Men: Folk Tales Collected in Flanders and Illustrated by Jean de Bosschère. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1918.

Bruner, Jerome. The Culture of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.

de Coster, Charles. 1920. Flemish Legends. Tr. Harold Taylor. London: Chatto and Windus.

de Ridder, André H. P. Christmas Tales of Flanders. London: William Heinemann, 1917.

de Roosendaele, Antonia de Lauwereyns. Contes et légendes de Flandre. Paris: Fernand Nathan, 1956. Defleur, Max. Contes et légendes de Wallonie. Paris: Fernand Nathan, 1965.

Delepierre, Octave Joseph. Old Flanders; or, Popular Traditions and Legends of Belgium. London: Newby, Mortimer and Cavendish, 1845.

Deulin, Charles, ed. Les contes d'un buveur de bière ed. Panthéon -1947.

Dulac, Edmund. Edmund Dulac's Fairy-Book: Fairy Tales of the Allied Nations. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1924. ⍽▢⍽ Two tales are Belgian.

Duval, Henriete, et al. Légendes du pays d'Ardenne. / - Edition Paul Duval - Elbeuf-Paris, 1936.

Evans, Charles Seddon. Reynard the Fox. Ill. Leonard Robert Brightwell. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1921. ⍽▢⍽ Good.

Grattan, Thomas Colley. Legends of the Rhine and of the Low Countries. Complete in One Volume. London: Richard Bentley, 1849.

Griffis, William Elliot. Belgian Fairy Tales. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1919.

Griffis, William Elliot. Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1918.

Grimm, Jacob. Deutsche Mythologie, Vol 2. Berlin: Ferdinand Dümmlers Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1876.

Haase, Donald, ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008.

Laport, George. Les contes populaires wallons. Helsinki: FFC, 1932.

Thorpe, Benjamin. Northern Mythology: Comprising the Principal Popular Traditions and Superstitions of Scandinavia, North Germany, and the Netherlands. London: E. Lumley, 1851.


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