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.
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