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HASSELT, the capital of the Belgian province of Limburg. Pop. (1904), 16,179. It derives its name from Hazel-bosch (hazel wood). It stands at the junction of several important roads and railways from Maaseyck, Maastricht and Liege. It has many breweries and distilleries, and the spirit known by its name, which is a coarse gin, has a certain reputation throughout Belgium. On the 6th of August 1831 the Dutch troops obtained here their chief success over the Belgian nationalists during the War of Independence. Hasselt is best known for its great septennial fete held on the day of Assumption, August isth. The curious part of this fete, which is held in honour of the Virgin under the name of Virga Jesse, is the conversion of the town for the day into the semblance of a forest. Fir trees and branches from the neighbouring forest are collected and planted in front of the houses, so that for a few hours Hasselt has the appearance of being restored to its primitive condition as a wood. The figure of the giant who is supposed to have once held the Hazelbosch under his terror is paraded on this occasion as the " lounge man." Originally this celebration was held annually, but in the 18th century it was restricted to once in seven years. There was a celebration in 1905.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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