Sunday, March 16, 2014

Carnival 2014: Postlude and Links


This is the conclusion of my eight-part narrative on Carnival (please avail yourself of the links to previous portions placed conveniently for you at the bottom of this post). At the end of this brief series, I am content to have shared a bit of my perspective on Carnival with interested readers. By now all the fellas should know better than to wear their favorite ties to work on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, for fear that some frisky gals will snip the ties in half, steal a few kisses, and hang the tie remnants in their trophy cases.

You're welcome!

But I am also humbled by how much I do not know about this wonderful world of ours, and the many interesting traditions such as Carnival observed around the world. For example, only after I set out to write this little memoir did I learn of the Carnival of Binche. Have you heard of it? Did you know that in 2003, Belgium's Carnaval de Binche was designated a UNESCO masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage? Even if you are not a Christian of European descent, the Carnaval de Binche is "kind of a big deal."

Some of the 1000 Gilles of Binche wearing their unique and historical Shrove Tuesday costumes

What is a Gille, you ask? (Go ahead, ask, I'll wait.) The Gilles are the principle costumed participants in the 700-year old Carnival of Binche in Belgium. They go out on Shrove Tuesday from 4 a.m. until late hours and dance to traditional songs. 

Here's what Wiki has to say about the Gilles of the Carnival of Binche:
"There are around 1000 Gilles, all male, some as young as 3 years old. All wear the traditional costume of the Gille on Shrove Tuesday. The outfit features a linen suit with red, yellow and black heraldic designs (the colours of the Belgian flag), trimmed with large white lace cuffs and collars. The suit is stuffed with straw, giving the Gille a hunched back. They also wear wooden clogs and have bells attached to their belts. In the morning they wear a mask of a particular design. After reaching the town hall, they remove these masks — they are not worn in the afternoon. During the afternoon parade, they throw blood oranges to (and sometimes at) the crowd and some of the Gilles wear large, white, feathered hats. They carry ramons, tied bunches of twigs, and baskets in which to carry the oranges. Their sticks are said to ward off evil spirits." --Wikipedia

The gap between what I have seen and all that is left to experience fills me with wonder and a lust for adventure. (Wanderlust?) I hope readers find some inspiration in the memories and plans I have shared.

Before offering you some wonderfully amusing links, I'll conclude with these simple observations:

  • What makes Mardi Gras, Carnival of Binche, Fasching, Carnaval, Fastan, Fastelavn, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, etc., different depends on where you are from or where you happen to live. Whether and how you celebrate Carnival is largely an accident of birth! 
  • So, what is it about Carnival that compels people around the world to celebrate it? What is the common link connecting the various versions? Perhaps our shared humanity is what unites us once a year, as words such as these are heard 'round the world....

New Orleans: "Let the good times roll!"
or Laissez les bons temps rouler!
(sounds like, Lay say lay bohn tohn roo lay!)

Venice: "A Carnevale Ogni Scherzo Vale!"
Anything goes at Carnival!
a scherzo (SKAIR-zoh) is a practical joke

Mainz: "Helau! Helau!"
(sounds like, Hello! Hello!)
originated from a burlesque ("Fastnachtsspiel") played in Düsseldorf in 1833

Alexandria: "Pass the donuts! Or doughnuts? Or Kinklings, Pączki, or Fasnachts!?"

Rio de Janeiro: "Todo bem!"

Daytona Beach: "Gentlemen (and ladies!), start your engines!"

Here are some selected LINKS to fuel your own PRE-LENTEN ADVENTURES next year!

10 Vocabulary Words to Learn

  1. Carnival: Carne (meat or flesh) Vale (farewell)
  2. Shrove: Shriving is the act of confessing sins
  3. Mardi, Martedi, and Dienstag all mean Tuesday
  4. Gras and Grasso mean Fat
  5. Rosenmontag is not about roses but raves
  6. Krewe, as in, Krewe of Bacchus
  7. Gilles: costumed participants in the 700-year old Carnival of Binche in Belgium
  8. UNESCO: the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 
  9. Wanderlust: a passion for travel
  10. Samba: a Brazilian dance of African origin.

10 Celebrations to Enjoy

  1. Mardi Gras in New Orleans 
  2. Martedi Grasso at Carnevale (Venice)
  3. Karnival (Northern and Western Germany)
  4. Fasching (Eastern and Southern Germany)
  5. Carnaval (Brazil)
  6. Carnival of Binche (Belgium)
  7. Fastan
  8. Fastelavn (Denmark, Norway, Iceland)
  9. Pancake Tuesday
  10. Shrove Tuesday

10 Locations to Visit

  1. New Orleans French Quarter
  2. Venice St. Mark's Square
  3. Rhineland-Palatinate 
  4. Mainz. Germany
  5. Old Town Alexandria, the most Romantic Place on Earth
  6. Sao Paolo
  7. Rio de Janeiro
  8. Copacabana Beach
  9. Ipanema Beach 
  10. Daytona Beach

10 Foods to Eat and Drinks to Imbibe

  1. German Fasnacht_(doughnut) 
  2. Polish Paczki  
  3. French King Cake 
  4. Hurricane Punch  
  5. Frittelle di carnevale, aka zeppole 
  6. Venetian Carnival Fritters aka frappe 
  7. Castagnole 
  8. Beignets
  9. Chickory coffee
  10. Andygator, the Imperial Pilsner from Louisiana's own Abita Brewing

10 Tangents to Explore

  1. Daytona Bike Week (pre-Lenten debauchery in years where Easter comes really, really late)
  2. Notre Dame Architecture Beaux Arts Ball
  3. Trophy case for displaying ties cut off during carnival 
  4. Get Mardi Gras beads without flashing for them
  5. Fantastic Masquerade Ball costume ideas 
  6. Why do people eat pancakes for Shrove Tuesday
  7. How to eat pancakes, celebrate Fat Tuesday, and help the less fortunate in one fell swoop 
  8. How to order your own, high quality Doubloons 
  9. Why do some women flash for beads
  10. Tab Benoit, American Delta blues artist from Baton Rouge 

The Gilles of Binche Await You 

Previous seven links in this 8-part series

  1. Carnival Prelude
  2. Carnival 1981: New Orleans
  3. Carnival 1982: Italy
  4. Carnival 1997: Germany
  5. Carnival 2014: Alexandria and environs
  6. Carnival 2016: Brazil
  7. Carnival 2030: Daytona

"If your life were a movie, would anyone watch?"