Everyone the world over might know the song ‘Y viva España‘.
Few know though that this was a Flemish song, written in 1971 – in Dutch – for the singer Samantha from Antwerp.
(Flanders is the Dutch speaking north of Belgium: because of the typical accent it’s often referred to as ‘Flemish‘).
The Flemish and Spain: a few conquests but mainly a love affair – and one that goes back 600 years. And Spain has always been sending kisses back. You don’t have to monitor the voting behaviour at the Eurovision Song Contest to see there’s forever a silent greeting between the 2 people. For example…
1. Meet the flamenquin, the dish
Long, thin and blonde.
Thus the inventors of this very popular Andalusian sausage roll did not have to think long about a name for it:
‘Flamenquin’, or little Fleming!
That was in the 19th century in Córdoba, so one could wonder why a Cordobese of that century had to think about an inhabitant of Flanders when serving a sausage.
Why, say, not the Vikings? Well, probably nobody remembered them. Whereas this person…
2. Meet Charles V, the emperor of emperors
Or, in Spain better known as Carlos I of Spain.
This best known of all emperors of the Holy Roman Empire was born – and had his seat – in Ghent in Flanders.
From there this heir of 3 leading dynasties ruled over not less than 4 million square kilometers. His empire was the first to ever be described as ‘the empire on which the sun never sets‘.
When in the 16th century he traveled to his castles in Sevilla and Granada, he did so with a very, very large entourage.
In those days that must have been quite the spectacle, such a colourful and long convoy criss crossing mountains and villages. Thanks to the flamenquin we can safely assume they were mostly blonde, tall and thin (or otherwise a real dish).
Just one part of the convoy consisted of his own musicians, playing music ‘a la flamenco‘ – or like a Fleming. This is almost surely the reason why the word ‘flamenco‘ slipped into the Spanish language – and why the weeks long parade left such a mark it sunk deep into the collective memory.
3. Meet Flamenco, the music and dance style
Now, the question remains how that word ‘flamenco’ then got attached to the music we know nowadays. After all, that music or dance style is not Flemish at all. And the art of Flamenco was only born in the 19th century.
One train of thought is that it was Andalusian humour: the first singers and players of Flamenco to be gypsies, short, stocky and dark.
But in fact it’s one of these mysteries of history, the reasoning or links lost in the mist of time: myths tend to have a long lifespan.
(Just think of how we still speak of Gypsies, centuries after we know they do not come from Egypt).
Not a myth: also that other Superstar of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, the first unifier of Europe after the crumbling of the Roman Empire, was thought to be born in current day Belgium: in his case in the French speaking region.
in 2016 the Belgians are thought to be 5th on the ranking of which nationalities buy most property in Spain – after nationals from the UK, France, Russia and Germany. In inland Málaga they are almost equally divided between Dutch- and French speakers, and a few German speakers from the small German speaking eastern part of Belgium).
That, by the way, was the original title of the song. It was a spelling mistake: the word ‘eviva‘ does not exist in Spanish.
The song was surfing on the birth of the popularity of beach holidays abroad – and the knowledge of the language still had to follow. Today, Spanish is the 4th most popular language to study in Belgium – and that’s quite something since the other languages or more or less compulsory or national languages.
PS: On October 1, 2 and 3 you find us on the Second Home Expo at the Expo in Brussels.
A bientôt / Tot gauw – in French, Dutch, Flemish, English, Spanish…
The original version:
Other songs you didn’t know where from Belgium:
– Pump up the jam
– The Way To Your Heart
– Hey, even Gotye of Somebody That I Used To Know was born in Bruges as Wouter De Backer