Straô Burgh-Haamstede 2024
Straô is an enchanting annual tradition that captures the hearts of horse enthusiasts and culture lovers on the beautiful island of Schouwen-Duiveland in the Netherlands. This event, rooted in ancient pagan traditions, celebrates the magical connection between nature and the island's rich cultural heritage.
The Ride to the Beach
From mid-February to the end of March, six villages on Schouwen-Duiveland transform every Saturday into a festive procession of beautifully adorned horses and riders. The villages of Renesse, Burgh-Haamstede, Noordwelle, Ellemeet, Scharendijke, and Serooskerke become the stage for this enchanting tradition, one by one. Riders and their horses gather in the morning at a fixed starting point in the village, and around noon, they set off in a festive procession to the beach.
The Highlight: Washing of the Horses' Feet
The pinnacle of Straô is when the riders take their horses into the sea to wash their feet. This ritualistic washing in the salty seawater is intended to drive away the evil spirits that, according to tradition, nest in the horses' legs during the winter. Additionally, there's a belief in the healing power of the seawater for the wounds the horses incurred while stabled during the winter.
Art and Culture
Besides the ritualistic beach ride, there's also a competitive element to the day. Horses are richly decorated with natural materials, and riders wear traditional attire when possible. A panel of villagers judges the horses, and at the end of the ride, awards are given to the most beautifully adorned horse and the best-dressed rider.
Festive Return and Additional Activities
Upon returning to the village, the riders are greeted by representatives of the municipal administration and the Straô committee, accompanied by the local music association. In some villages, there are additional activities like jousting and/or foot races. The day concludes with a party in the local entertainment venues, where traditionally 'schroasels' (a type of flat spiced cakes) are eaten.
A Unique Tradition
Straô riding (beach riding) is a unique tradition that only takes place on Schouwen-Duiveland. Since its first mention in 1643, the event has evolved into a cherished local celebration that brings the community together. Once it was a festivity for young farmers and farmhands, but nowadays, many other horse enthusiasts participate, resulting in a diverse array of horses and ponies forming the colorful procession.
Schouwen-Duiveland invites you to experience this deeply rooted tradition for yourself and become part of the magic of Straô. Each year offers a new opportunity to celebrate the spirit of community and enjoy the serene beauty of Schouwen-Duiveland.
Route and Times
For the exact route and times, please refer to the website below of Straô Burgh-Haamstede.