Saint George's epic battle with the dragon--called "Lumecon"--is recreated annually on Trinity Sunday on the Grand Place at Mons.
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Background: Saint George's epic battle with the dragon--called "Lumecon"--is recreated annually on Trinity Sunday on the Grand Place at Mons.
Like that of many folkloric celebrations the origin of the Lumecon lies in an old legend:
In 1132 Hainaut was afflicted by a terror for men and animals alike. A hideous, monstrous animal had his lair at the foot of a hill. He greedily ate up persons and animals, hunting them down as far as the gates of Mons. It was an immense dragon--nearly 50 feet long--covered with scales as hard as iron, with an enormous jaw, paws, and wings . His roar terrorized the countryside.
Panic reigned to such an extent that the nobles of the region offered large rewards--one of them even his daughter's hand--to him who would save the land from the monster.
The young and valiant Gilles de Chin vowed to kill the dragon. He carefully trained his steed and hounds; when ready, he went to meet his foe. The struggle began: dragon using his cruelty and slyness, knight mustering all his courage and intelligence.
The combat had continued for a long time without either adversary succombing when suddenly a young girl appeared carrying a lantern in her hand. She threw before Gilles a bundle of thorns which he, with the point of his lance, pushed into the monster's mouth. Before the beast reacted the young girl set the bundle afire with her lantern, then disappeared just as she had come. Gilles took advantage of the dragon's confusion to plunge his lance through his heart.
As Gilles de Chin became Saint Georges through the centuries, the legend did not die out. However it is known that since 1390 a procession called "Du Car d'Or" took place the same day as the "Combat du Lumecon". In the former procession--and the tradition persevered-- appeared the Confrerie de Saint Georges with the saint in person dressed as a knight, escorted by devils, "chins-chins", and followed by the dragon. At the end of this religious ceremony (as well as at the end of the present one) began the battle of the Lumecon. The Knight Gilles de Chin was personified by Saint Georges himself. The confusion of the two characters certainly arises from this fact.
The local population annually sees this heroic battle with much enthusiasm during which as wild men somersault over each other, the dragon's tail decorated with manes and ribbons sweeps over the heads of the crowd. Alas for all hats. The spectators try to snatch these manes and ribbons, which supposedly bring good luck for a year.
The battle becomes increasingly fierce; the crowd frantically encourages the knight. Saint Georges waits for the right moment to kill his adversary with his lance, which breaks under the blows; he takes his sword, then ends the struggle with two pistol shots.
Saint Georges salutes the spectators with his sabre. The dragon is dead. The kermis of Nons may now begin.