Hoogstraten: Country, Region of Origin
The group is from Hoogstraten, a small town in the north of Belgium, approximately 5 km from the border with the Netherlands and 40 km from Antwerp.
The name ‘Gelmelzwaaiers’ originates from the Viking chief Gelmel. According to the legend, Gelmel sailed up the small river ‘The Marck’ in Flanders up to the place where Hoogstraten is now situated. That was in the 9th century. There he built a fortress. In 1210, this settlement had grown into the town Hoogstraten. In 1518 under the ruling of count Antoon de Lalaing, it became the capital of the county of Hoogstraten. The guild members wave their flags to remind us of the Viking chief Gelmel.
The flag wavers' uniform
The uniform of the adult flag wavers is from the Burgundian era. It is designed after the model of the town flag wavers of Duke Jan. It has the colours and the coat of arms of the country of Hoogstraten as in the period of count Antoon de Lalaing.
The uniform of our young flag wavers, designed by Lief Boeykens, is more modern and contemporary. It has the colours of the town of Hoogstraten (red and white). The black trousers refer to the black colours in the traditional costume.
Our flag-wavers wave large and small flags. These flags have as main colours red and white, the colours of the town of Hoogstraten. The flames on the flag symbolise the flag in motion. A white flag with the coat of arms of Hoogstraten symbolises the whole group. Above the coat of arms is the jewelled count’s crown. The flag bears the name ‘Gelmelzwaaiers’ and ‘Hoogstraten’.
For our youth section, we have more modern flags designed and adapted to their costume. The large flags measure 2m by 1,8m. The counterweight and the flagpole with the flag weigh about 5kg. The smaller flags measure 1,4m by 1,2m. The counterweight and the flagpole with the flag weigh about 2kg. We also have an in-between size flag of 1,65m by 1,45m.