Friday, February 24, 2006

Culture: carnaval in the south of the Netherlands

I live in the south of the Netherlands, so in the carnaval (catholic) area. Since I was born and raised in Amersfoort (middle of the country) I have not been brought up with carnaval at all. On the picture you will see Prins Harry I with adjudant Wim who will rule our village renamed zandhazendurp for the carnaval period. Den Bosch is now called Oeteldonk and on their site you can see how many more minutes till the official start of carnaval. Today we celebrated carnaval at school, tomorrow in Zandhazendurp and sunday we will go to welcome the prince in Oeteldonk. It really goes on till Wednesday, but I'll go to work (remember: I'm not from here!!). One year (more than 10 years ago) I fully celebrated carnaval, and it was a great eye-opener. From the outside (for Northerners like me) it looks somewhat childish and a drinking party. When you celebrate and fully emerge yourself in the whole process, it is also about talking and joking to anybody you meet, people interacting in a very different way then they do in 'normal' life. And there is a whole flowing ceremony till wednesday. (needless to say that the fasting part of the ceremony which should start after carnaval got lost somewhere in the process). Still I feel I will never get the real carnaval feeling as people do who were born and bred with it. And people here immediately recognise northerners in the crowd by their behaviour, which doesn't match local habits.

I love the carnaval stories; I asked someone whether he was going to celebrate this year and he answered: "well, I don't think so. But I'll probably end up going to the local pub, will start to drink and like it, and then in the evening someone will propose to eat soup together somewhere, but before the soup arrives I will have fallen asleep..."

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