The Medieval tradition dates to 1476
Free herring for poor people is one of the oldest traditions in the province of Groningen, which dates back to the year 1476. But after more than five hundred years the traditional events this year have been cancelled, reports RTV Noord.
The traditional herring ceremony in the village of Niekerk in the province of Groningen, which was supposed to be held on April 8, has been canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The herring ceremony dates from 1476, after a rich farmer, Menno Jeltema, left a sum of money to the Pepergasthuis in Groningen, under the perpetual obligation that a ton of herring had to be delivered to the poor in Niekerk every year just before Easter.
Since the tradition came into existence, it has been kept to nearly every year. The party was also canceled during the French invasion of The Netherlands in 1789, and during the First and Second World Wars.
In 2017, the tradition was added to the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands.
The herring ceremony is nowadays mainly paid for by the congregation and the reformed church.
Image via Pixnio, by Duane Raver, USFWS (Public License)