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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dutchiness part 2: Carnival


Vastenavond or Carnival is almost on us. It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since I lived in the Netherlands, for it was among my first posts on my life here (link). Carnival is a celebration of indulgence and merriment before the fasting period begins. Seven weeks before Easter, the weekend before the Ash Wednesday, begin the festivities or rather the craziness. The name Carnival is derived from 'Carne' or meat which the Christians give up during the fasting period. In the Netherlands, Carnival is celebrated mostly in the Catholic prominent southern provinces - Noord Brabant and Limburg.


Okie, enough with the history of it, the Carnival as I understand is about getting as crazy as possible. On Sunday, the mayor of the city passes the keys of the city to the fake Prince or the jester in charge of the hullabaloo. From Sunday to Tuesday is the parade consisting of really fancy and weird large shaped floats, people dressed in the strangest of costumes (everybody is dressed up, if you don't then you must be a foreigner for sure!), the thumping oomph- oomph music and humongous amounts of beer everywhere on the streets. The all but deserted places in the bitter winter become suddenly warm and crowded over the weekend. A one week holiday for the students, a lot of the university crowd goes 'bar trekking'as they call it, skipping from one bar to another all night.

Breda, Maastricht and 's Hertogenbosch have the most elaborate celebrations. Last year I went to the one in Eindhoven. A large group of us are planning to go to Maastricht tomorrow to catch in on this year's parade. A much needed change to the cold weather here. More pictures and details later. :)

5 comments:

A Touch of Dutch said...

Thanks for sharing this! Great to learn more! I was just thinking about this & would love to make a trip to Maastricht to see this :-) I've never participated in Carnival & know, even though I don't normally celebrate this, I must in the Netherlands. Have a great weekend!

~ Lopa said...

I haven't visited one so far.... let's see if can this year or not :)

Aledys Ver said...

I think I'd like to see how the Carnival is celebrated in Brabant and Limburg, I'm sure it must have a little more "flair" than up here in the north and the east. So, I'm looking forward to seeing your photos! I hope you had fun!

Pinay in Dutchland said...

I was in Provincie Geldereland during the carnival weekend but MK wouldnt want to stop for the parade. Ive seen very wacky costumes though and I must say, the Dutch know how to party during a carnival. Carnival is actually a religious celebration they say, where indulgence is allowed before the Lent. Wished I could have joined! Looks like a lot of fun.

thamarai said...

Isabella, thanks a lot..You must see it once for sure..you will have such a great time seeing so many colors in the winter..and your camera will have a feast..:)

Lopa, did you visit this year finally?

Aledys Ver, yes I heard that the festival is celebrated mostly in the south..I had funnnnn and it was colld!! :)

Pinay, wow, ages since I saw you last in my blog..:) Yes, it was nice minus the weather...

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