Ah Spring is almost here,
But you wouldn’t know it!
With the never ending rain storms,and for the first time in a while, snow in Amsterdam we have been feeling the winter city blues. But no worries, with every dark cloud comes of course with a silver lining. Here in the Netherlands, mostly in the southern part of our country we have huge celebrations known as “carnaval”
The areas known as Brabant and Limburg in the Netherlands are predominantly catholic areas where the tradition of carnival marks the preparation of starting Lent. It takes places in various cities throughout these areas and has been happening ever since the late 14th and 15th centuries. For 3 to 5 days ( in some areas of Germany even 6 days) all daily life is suspended in order to enjoy and delight in the revelry that is carnival!
The first carnival occured in Den Bosch during the late 14th century and was of course derived from pagan traditions which then of course fell out of favour with the religious community during the 17th century Reformation period. It became popular again during the early 19th century during the French occupation in order for Dutch people to preserve their national identity. People during this time were expected to dress in costumes in order to remove the social norms and equalize all of society. You can not tell if a person is a rich banker or a poor beggar on the street and allows everyone to be able to enjoy fun.
The difference between the celebration events of the two areas are also inherently different. While Limburg has parties and colorful costumers everywhere in the streets, and some Germanic/ samba elements , Brabantse carnival will be purely Dutch , and will have most of the people wearing borenkiel or a farmers smock ( dressed down) and celebrating in a giant tent.
The traditions and roots of the celebrations are Burgundian at best, and the northern provinces and cities of the Netherlands do not understand the desire to celebrate in this festival and consider it silly at best. However there in lies the gezelligheid and fun in doing something without reason.
The dutch have a word for this and I love it “losgaan”
literally to go wild and crazy and go, well, lose yourself in the fun!
The number 11 in Germanic traditions is considered a fools number, therefor on the 11th of November, 11 council members in each city will meet and select a “prince” of the carnival who will lead the party and will obtain the keys to the city for the entire 3 to 5days. The city will be under his control. Some of the carnival festivities include of course drinking, drinking and more drinking in addition to of course eating fatty foods like Frikadel and French Fries with mayonnaise and dancing around to Dutch music known as “schlageresque”, which is pretty catchy! Much of the music can contain themes and jokes meant to poke fun at the city council members, popular Dutch celebrities and mimic events of the past year. I’m sure there are already going to be a lot of Donald Trump costumes to poke fun at!
If you decide to come to Amsterdam or the Netherlands this weekend and choose a walking tour, it might be worth your while to look for a costume, and stay the weekend in order to enjoy the completely fun , cultural and exciting festival known as carnival!
A costume by the way is completely mandatory if you want to celebrate in the fun . The more ridiculous, the better!
This weekend Erik, the author of this post will be celebrating carinval in Breda( located in Brabant) And I look forward to sharing pictures of me drinking Dutch beer, and partying in the streets!
Check back later for updates and pictures! Book a tour with our company today and ask our guides for more information on how you can celebrate carnival in style!!!