Hopping procession of Echternach
Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Hopping procession of Echternach
Each year, on the Tuesday of Pentecost (a Christian religious festival), the hopping procession of Echternach (Iechternacher Sprangprëssioun) takes place in the medieval town centre of Echternach, the oldest city in Luxembourg. Documented since the year 1100, the procession is founded on the cult of Saint Willibrord, a monk and founder of the Abbey of Echternach, revered for his missionary activities, his kindness and gift of curing certain illnesses. Despite the opposition of the Church due to the pagan elements of the procession, its successive bans did nothing to stop it spreading to the rest of the region and permeating every social class. The procession begins early in the morning in the courtyard of the ancient abbey, in the presence of the highest ecclesiastical authorities in the country and of many other countries. Singers recite litanies and then some 8,000 dancers take over, split into 45 groups according to a ritual transmitted from generation to generation. It ends with a service in the basilica. The current procession is a religious event deeply rooted in the tradition expressed through prayer, songs and dance – the historical form of worship. Nowadays, the procession, supported by the civil and religious authorities is increasingly popular despite secularization, with an average each year of 13,000 participants coming from Luxembourg and the neighbouring regions.
Decision 5.COM 6.27
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Strongly rooted in the Echternach community, the hopping procession is transmitted from generation to generation, providing its participants and observers with a sense of identity and continuity;
- R.2: Inscription of the hopping procession of Echternach on the Representative List could contribute to raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Luxembourg and worldwide, while promoting respect for human creativity;
- R.3: Various safeguarding measures at different levels, such as the establishment of an abbey museum and a documentation centre, are proposed with the express commitment of the communities and the State;
- R.4: The nomination process involved the participation of civic authorities and Oeuvre Saint-Willibrord, the body responsible for the procession, and their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;
- R.5: The hopping procession of Echternach is included since 2008 in the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage maintained by the Luxembourg National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO.
© 2008 MCESR (Ministère de la culture, de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche)
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website