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The Strange History Behind Kattenshoet, Belgium's Cat Throwing Festival

The Strange History Behind Kattenshoet, Belgium's Cat Throwing Festival image

The Strange History Behind Kattenshoet, Belgium's Cat Throwing Festival

Every three years in the city of Ypres, Belgium, the townspeople gather together for a cat-themed festival that has everyone dressing in elaborate cat costumes and marching with giant cat parade floats. Oh yeah, did we mention throwing toy cats? That's definitely part of the tradition, too.

This is Kattenstoet, or the “Festival of the Cats” and it's been around since 1955.

Nowadays, the festival is a whole lot of silly, cat themed frivolities, races, costumes, and sweets. But its origins are actually pretty dark.

The Kattenstoet tradition began in Medieval times when the city council brought in a whole army of cats to fight the mouse population in their "Cloth Halls". These were storage buildings for the constant stream of garments being manufactured and sold in the city, so keeping the materials free of vermin droppings and nibble marks was imperative to economic prosperity.

According to legend, once the cloth was sold, the cats were then killed. But here's the weird part: the killing was specifically carried out by throwing the cats from the church bell tower. No one really knows why this practice was ever considered a good or normal, but we can only guess that it had something to do with superstition.

These days, Kattenstoet has a much less cruel version of the tradition. At the end of the parade, stuffed animal cat toys are tossed from the bell tower for the kids to collect below. Thankfully, the festival is all about celebrating cats, not killing them.

Want to know more about this unusual tradition? Read its history here or visit the Kattenstoet website for dates and details.

Via Amusing Planet

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