Posted by: travelrat | July 10, 2010


Brides living in some European countries often have two ceremonies. The Church Wedding, which isn’t obligatory, follows days … or even weeks … after the mandatory civil ceremony.

In Antwerp, Belgium, a third ceremony is on offer, but only on one day of the year.

On the first weekend of Spring, Antwerp celebrates the opening of the tourist season, with free concerts and exhibitions, culminating in a magnificent ‘sound and light’ show. And, on the Saturday, the ‘Friends of Semini’ put on their costumes and gather outside the Town Hall.

Semini was a 2nd Century fertility god, the barely recognisable image of whom still stands above the gateway of the Steen, Antwerp’s castle. The image was defaced considerably when Spain captured Antwerp in 1787; the prudish Jesuits considered it much too earthy for their tastes.

Legend has it that a woman wishing to conceive only had to look at the image!

The ‘Friends of Semini’ meet brides and grooms outside the Town Hall, along with their friends, the Antwerp Moustache Club, (no prize for guessing the qualification for membership), and their mascot ‘Giant John’.

They present ‘Semini Bread’ and flowers to the couple, and sing the ‘Semini Song’. And, when they emerge as a married couple, the ‘Friends’ dance around them, to ensure a happy and fruitful union.

‘What happens now?’ I asked a bushily-moustached friend in the Moustache Club.

‘Why, we go for a drink, of course!’ he said.

And that’s an almost indispensable part of any European festival.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition ;


  1. Oh I love it! That’s fantastic! Never knew about that one and we love Antwerp and written about Belgium a lot – so nice to learn something new!

    Thanks so much for entering! We’ll miss you in August. Enjoy!

  2. I came upon the Semini ceremonies almost by accident, by taking some time out after the Antwerp Tourism workshop.

    Although I’m not the greatest fan of face-fungus, I did grow a moustache so I might be made an honorary member of the Moustache Club I visited the following year.

    But, then, I got an invite to Lesbos on the same date …

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