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.
"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
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....
Venice: "A Carnevale Ogni Scherzo Vale!"
a scherzo (SKAIR-zoh) is a practical joke
Mainz: "Helau! Helau!"
(sounds like, Hello! Hello!)
Alexandria: "Pass the donuts! Or doughnuts? Or Kinklings, Pączki, or Fasnachts!?"
Rio de Janeiro: "Todo bem!"
Daytona Beach: "Gentlemen (and ladies!), start your engines!"
10 Vocabulary Words to Learn
- Carnival: Carne (meat or flesh) Vale (farewell)
- Shrove: Shriving is the act of confessing sins
- Mardi, Martedi, and Dienstag all mean Tuesday
- Gras and Grasso mean Fat
- Rosenmontag is not about roses but raves
- Krewe, as in, Krewe of Bacchus
- Gilles: costumed participants in the 700-year old Carnival of Binche in Belgium
- UNESCO: the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
- Wanderlust: a passion for travel
- Samba: a Brazilian dance of African origin.
- Daytona Bike Week (pre-Lenten debauchery in years where Easter comes really, really late)
- Notre Dame Architecture Beaux Arts Ball
- Trophy case for displaying ties cut off during carnival
- Get Mardi Gras beads without flashing for them
- Fantastic Masquerade Ball costume ideas
- Why do people eat pancakes for Shrove Tuesday?
- How to eat pancakes, celebrate Fat Tuesday, and help the less fortunate in one fell swoop
- How to order your own, high quality Doubloons
- Why do some women flash for beads?
- Tab Benoit, American Delta blues artist from Baton Rouge