Flag-waving is supposed to have originated during the crusades or even a while before. Waving the company banner was a military act. Later, young company officers were entrusted with carrying the company banner. With graceful movements, they accompanied and steered the bulk of the army. During the middle Ages, there was a close contact between the archers’ guilds and the flag-wavers.
In the 17th century, flag-waving was an important part of the festivities of the chambers of rhetoric. It was performed individually or in-group.
In the fifties and later years of relative calm, new life was injected into flag-waving by the Catholic Rural Youth Movement. They started to incite their members to develop this beautiful Flemish folklore by creating new figures and series. In some clubs, members were so infected by the flag-waving mania that they continued independently.
The flag-waving guild “Gelmelzwaaiers” grew up that way. Also in the archers’ guild, individual members still wave their flags.
Flag-waving with large flags (2m by 1,8 m) is only known in the north of Belgium (Flanders), the south of the Netherlands and in some parts of Germany near the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. Smaller flags are waved in more parts of Europe: Switzerland, Austria, and Italy and in the regions where the large flags are waved.
Mostly, the flags have as main colours and figures those of the property owner, the patron saint, the town or the region to which the group belongs. Now, flags in the modern groups have all kinds of colours adapted to comtemporary flag waving.
In 1958, the local KLJ-department started flag-waving. A few years later, some independent older members performed in several places.
In 1972, stimulated by and under the expert leadership of Jos Van Den Kieboom the ‘Vendelierdgilde Gelmelzwaaiers’ was founded. Soon afterwards, they performed at home and abroad. This continued in 1982 with participation in an international folklore festival in Le Puy in France. In 1986, the flag-wavers were on the plane for a first visit to the USA. Thereafter, they conquered continent after continent with their graceful flag-waving. In 1997, a youth section was started under the expert leadership of Jan Van Aert and Dirk Lambrechts. In 1999, a drum band was formed within the group.