Travel

The French Custom of Throwing Wooden Spoons at People

The Historic Ladle Feast has been taking place in the town of Comines since 1884.

by Marc Berti Azar, Paul Ralu, and Benjamin Leclerc
05 November 2014, 7:00am

Balls, flower bouquets, boomerangs - I've seen people run to catch all sorts of things in my life, but never a wooden ladle. Which is what has been happening every year since 1884 in the French town of Comines during a festival called La Fête Historique des Louches (rough translation: "the Historic Ladle Feast").

Like many other customs of northern France, the Historic Ladle Feast is basically about people throwing stuff at other people - just like the Festival de l'Andouille (where people throw andouille sausages at each other) or the Fête de Jehan van d'Helle, also known as the Tobacco Party, (where people throw wooden pipes at each other).

​And like many other festivals of northern France, the Historic Ladle Feast is based on a legend: In an attempt to let his people know of his whereabouts while imprisoned in a high tower, the lord of Comines apparently threw a wooden spoon engraved with his coat of arms through the bars of his cell.

​The festival includes a procession of floats pulled by tractors, cheerleaders, and marching bands, as well as a Miss Comines pageant. The procession ends with a chariot carrying a bunch of people seen as the members of the "Fellowship of Ladles" (these are the guys wearing weird red costumes in the photos). At the end, every villager counts the ladles they have collected and hidden under their coats during the festival - the more ladles you have, the more you deserve to live in Comines.