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Title: Kermis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Dutch American, David Vinckboons, Niedernhausen, Kahl am Main, Lorch, Hesse, Hettenleidelheim, Nieder-Olm, Rheinböllen, Hachenburg, Montabaur
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Kermesse, or kermis, or kirmess, is a Dutch language term derived from 'kerk' (church) and 'mis' (mass) that became borrowed in English and French, originally denoting the mass said on the anniversary of the foundation of a church (or the parish) and in honour of the patron. Such celebrations were regularly held in the Low Countries and also in northern France, and were accompanied by feasting, dancing and sports of all kinds.


Arguably the first kermesse was an annual parade to mark the events of 1370 (some sources say 1369) in Brussels, when all the Jewish population of the city were burnt alive after being accused of profaning a basket of communion hosts, which were said to have bled when stabbed. According to one source, those Jewish residents who could prove that they did not profane the hosts were not killed, but were merely banished from Brussels.[1]

These festivities still survive in the form of funfairs, while the old allegorical representations are now uncommon. Whereas nearly every village has a kermis once or twice a year, the large Zuidfoor or Foire du Midi (South Fair) of Brussels and Sinksenfoor (Whitsun Fair) of Antwerp attract many visitors during several weeks. The funfair on the Vrijdagmarkt in Ghent coincides with the 10-day long Gentse Feesten (Ghent Festivities) which are held across the entire inner city around the 21st of July (Belgian national holiday).

The standard Dutch language expression Vlaamse kermis (Flemish kermesse) once referred to the local village kermesse (as pronounced in the former County of Flanders) though its modern usage is mainly limited to privately organized fairs open to the public, often for fund-raising, such as by Catholic schools or youth organisations in the Flemish Region.

The crew of the Dutch ship Gelderland used the names "griff-eendt" and "kermisgans" for the Dodo in 1598, in reference to fowl fattened for the Kermesse festival, which was held the day after they anchored on Mauritius.[2]

Impact on other languages and cultures

The word Kermess (generally in the form Kirmess) is applied in the

The term has also had an influence on Ibero-American culture. Specifically in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, "kermeses" are held by churches and schools to raise funds. Many activities take place including "tombolas" where people buy tickets for drawings that always have awards from very minor items to bigger awards. In Brazil "quermesses" are usually held by churches during the early weeks of winter and in celebration of the widely popular Festa Junina festivities.

The word also entered the Belarusian language as "кiрмаш" (kirmash) in the meaning of "fair".

In Lithuanian language "kermošius" (kermoshius) means a fair after the mass in the church.

In Romanian "chermeză" means party or banquet.

In Italian "kermesse" means party.

In the Turkish language "kermes" is a sale of ladies' handiwork for charity.

See also


  • Template:1911 (1911). Itself naming as source :
    Boulger, Demetrius C., Belgian Life in Town and Country (1904).
  •  / With short history :  /

External links


  •  / With short history :  /
    * Old photographs of the Brussels fair (collection Jean-Pierre Roels) :


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