But first, a quick history lesson (that I've just picked up via the Roman Catholic Church's Dutch website): Early in the Roman Catholic Church's history, the church often took advantage of existing pagan celebrations in order to relate to those they were trying to convert. Mariamaand came about while connecting celebrations to pagan goddesses' fertility and the breaking of the cold weather into warm, usually around May 1, to Mary's fertility as the mother of Christ. Sometime in the 13th century, the entire month of May was dedicated to Mary. As time when on, pilgrimages to specific places of worship were made by believers to honor Mary.
The Hasseltse Kapel is one of these sites. A Baroque style statue of the Madonna and Christ Child installed in the late 18th century is the focal point of the chapel. Every day during the month of May, people come to the chapel to light candles and say a few prayers or sit in reflection. It's amazing to see how many people will come just to this a small, tucked-away chapel during May.
After you visit the chapel, you can make your way over to the snoepkramen (candy carts) set up outside the chapel park. I'm not entirely sure when this tradition started, but to add to the festival atmosphere at some point, the snoepkramen were added along with a few small concerts and other activities. As you might imagine, the snoepkramen are quite the hit with the kids, but there are plenty of adults picking out candy for themselves, too.
If you can, make your own pilgrimage to the Hasseltse Kapel in Tilburg during May, or any other time of the year. The Hasseltse Kapel (Hasseltplein 40, 5042 AC Tilburg) is open daily from 09:00 to 19:00, unless otherwise scheduled. Visit the website for additional information.