The Hoogeveen based hornests will be performing the Christian hymn ‘Glory to God’ whilst fulfilling a pagan winter tradition
In Drenthe, a tradition will continue this Boxing Day despite the Coronavirus, which may well go back to the Germanic tribes that lived in the region around two thousand years ago: the blowing of a horn in mid winter.
The giant midwinter horns are blown at the midwinter solstice, and at Christmas. The horns are enormous, made from “a half-sawn, curved tree, which is hollowed out and then put bac together”, says Albert Metselaar, a hornish person from Hoogeveen.
But is it a Christian tradition or not? “I like a combination of the tradition of horn blowing among the Germanic tribes with the expectation of a horn that will sound at the arrival of the Messiah, the Christmas child. And that is again Biblical”, Metselaar said to RTV Drenthe.
“In Scandinavia we also see horns of rolled birch bark, some were – and are- also blown on large ox horns”, added Metselaar.
Although midwinter horn blowing is relatively unknown, there are still a few hundred people in the Netherlands that keep this tradition alive. Metselaar: “Are there still many midwinter horn players left? Well, in Drenthe around Schoonebeek, Diever, Zuidwolde a few groups and further in Overijssel, Twente and Gelderland.”