Kuurne

Kuurne is a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises only the town of Kuurne proper. On January 1, 2006 Kuurne had a total population of 12,591. The total area is 10.01 km² which gives a population density of 1258 inhabitants per km².

Inhabitants from Kuurne are nicknamed 'donkeys'. This is said to be a term of derision given to them by the people of nearby Kortrijk because traders from Kuurne habitually set off for the Kortrijk market at an early hour, their ass-drawn carts laden with vegetables. Awoken by the rattle of the cart wheels and the braying of the asses, the people of Kortrijk exclaimed: "It's those asses from Kuurne again!"

An alternative, more legendary explanation originates from the tale of a priest who had to hold a funeral on Ash Wednesday. He asked the sacrister to take over his regular service, but unfortunately the latter couldn't remember the Latin words "Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris" (Remember, man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return), which are to be proclaimed while applying a cross of ash to the foreheads of the churchgoers. Later the priest spoke to him in exasperation, saying: "You were born an ass, and you will die an ass!" "Aha," said the sacrister, "I'll remember that!" and so saying, he continued giving the people of Kuurne their crosses of ash.

The best-known ass in Kuurne is 'Ambroos' (Ambrose), a larger-than-life and somewhat stylised statue in front of the town hall. It's interesting to note that as well as a big bouquet, the winner of the annual pro cycling race Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne also receives a soft toy version of 'Ambroos' to wave from the stage.

Read more about Kuurne:  Twin Towns

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