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Bruges, Belgium

The Procession of the Holy Blood

This gruesome biblical parade celebrates the one day a year that a bit of Jesus' blood turns to liquid. 

Each year, forty days after the Easter holiday, the largest procession in the city of Bruges, Belgium takes to the streets to parade around a vial of what is said to be the blood of Jesus Christ so that it might once again become liquid for a time. 

The Procession of the Holy Blood, also known as the “Most Beautiful Day in Bruges,” has been taking place each year since the 13th century when the relic is said to have come to the city. As the story goes it was brought to Bruges after the Second Crusade, and on the Thursday that falls 40 days after Easter, the otherwise dried blood becomes wet once more. The revery was created to celebrate this miracle.  

Over 3,000 participants march in the parade each year in various costumes and roles. There are a number of Bible stories that are represented with people dressed as pilgrims and pharaohs, as well as a menagerie of beasts ranging from camels to donkeys. In addition to all of the recreations, a large number of the marchers are actual church officials including the 30-strong Brotherhood of the Holy Blood who look after the reliquary. Filled out with floats, bands, choirs, and other solemn revelers, the parade is an unrivaled spectacle, save when the actual blood passes the crowd at which point the air turns quiet and reverent.

Anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 people come from all over the world to witness the holy parade each year and the practice itself has received UNESCO protected status. Not bad for a little spilt blood.