Ever heard of the late 1930s swallowing live goldfish fad that swept the nation (well, okay, colleges)? Turns out it’s a centuries-old tradition in a rural area of Belgium…
Taking a deep breath, Rudy Van Acker raises a silver chalice to his pursed lips, hesitates ever so slightly, then takes a sip before downing the contents in a couple of swift gulps.
Van Acker, the senior Roman Catholic priest in this rural area of Flanders, is undertaking one of his more unusual pastoral duties: drinking live fish, washed down with red wine.
For centuries, thousands of revelers in this part of Belgium have celebrated the Krakelingen festival – named after the bread that will be thrown to the townspeople. The pageant, commemorating the onset of spring, combines pagan and Christian symbols and culminates in the consumption of tiny live fish immersed in red wine at a ceremony presided over by three men dressed as druids.