Beselare is a well-known as the witches’ village. ‘A giant witch, a flying witch, a crazy witch, a ponderous piece of furniture, with naughty black eyes and a defiant gaze, and a nose like a peck.’ This is how Calle Bletters is described. Other well-known witches are Clette, Babbe, Dokke, Belle, Tanneken, Meele, Fyte, Leeme and Sefa as mistress of the witches.
‘One had never known it to haunt so much that night, it was terrible to hear, each had his own encounter and it was clear that Sefa Bubbels with all her disciples had unleashed her devils. It was from then on that Beselare got the name of witches’ parish.
The witch legends are situated in the 17th century and live on to this day. Since the mid-20th century, the stories have come to life in a real Witches’ procession. The folkloric parade takes place every two years on the last Sunday of July. According to legend, Sefa Bubbels was buried on this day.
Tip: Hidden behind Beselare’s church you’ll find the Magic Herb Garden: a small green corner with herbs, plants and peculiar symbols. Explore the garden and learn more about the various herbs that grow there.
The origin of the witches’ procession
In 1957, André Vandenameele went to the town hall for the first time, asking for witch festivities to be organised. He got no response. The following year he tried again, again without success. The town clerk suggests to André to organise a street fair.
In the year 1959, André receives a visit from Omar Delvoye to participate in the Rosary Action, which is prayed in family circles. During an evening meeting – organised by Beselare’s priest – three Beselare residents join to organise the fair.
They each look for another co-founder and on 6 August 1959, the first board meeting takes place in café Sint-Elooi. They decide to create a witches’ giant, paid for by house visits, folks games and the sale of beer pots. It proves to be a great success that they repeat annually. In 1990, the board decides to organise the procession biennially.
During their celebrations, the pioneers raise money and reach an agreement with E.H. Pastor Debyser to build a new chapel on land given to him by René Decock.
In the end, the chapel is not built. Vzw De Heksenstoet decides to use the money they received from the initial fair organisers to erect ten mushrooms. These mushrooms represent the Beselare’s witch circle, with its 10 witches.
Tip: Meet the witches in person at the kiosk near the magic herb garden behind the church.