Saturday, 1 March 2014

Carnival in 's-Hertogenbosch

Or should I say: Carnival in Oeteldonk, which is the name for the city during carnival.  Carnival has been around since the Middle Ages I have been told and it's most certainly still celebrated nowadays.

Foto: Schilderij Gevecht tussen carnaval en vasten
This painting depicts the early carnival celebrations
It should really start on Sunday morning, when Prince Carnival is welcomed at the railway station at exactly 11:11 am, but a lot of keen people seem to have enough time nowadays to start a few days before.

Central railway station carnival style
At the big market square in the centre of the city a (mostly paper maché) statue of farmer Knillis is revealed, which will stay there for the next three days.  In my days and before then, most people used to wear a blue farmers shirt (a kiel), a red handkerchief around the neck and a black cap on the head.  This used to be the attire of a real Brabant's farmer. Nowadays however that seems to be old fashioned, because I do see so many more costumes and even painted faces.  The old charm of carnival seems to have disappeared somewhat.

Amid all the singing, dancing and the pub crawls there is also the big parade on Monday with enormous, colourful floats made of paper maché.  On Tuesday follows the children's parade.

Besides the attire the colours red-white-yellow are associated with carnival in Oeteldonk the whole city is draped in them.  Statues, houses, flower stalls, everything shows the colours.  Shop windows join in the fun and the wares are adjusted to reflect the carnival celebrations. It's a world gone mad for three days!

While visiting the city recently with Gerrie, my sister-in-law, we walked amidst the preparations for the coming celebrations:

Not visible in the picture, but even the gold dragon statue
 on the pillar is wearing a red-white-yellow shawl

Big windows are removed (damage) and at every pub or café extra room is created
to hold the extra patrons during the celebrations.  It can still be very cold outside...

Town Hall in Oeteldonk colours

Flower stalls join in with the appropriate colour scheme...

More room added to this row of cafés

This 'farmer' is still wearing the old attire

Even statues don't escape the fun of dressing up

There are many more pictures available.  Just google 'carnaval in Oeteldonk' and click on 'images'.

On our walk through the city there were more places that asked for pictures, so here's an impression of a few of the interesting spots we walked past:

A mural in the former red light district

As you can see, water everywhere.  It's all part of the river systems called "De Binnendieze" which are found throughout the entire city, and, after the restoration no longer the smelly waters which we all hated when we grew up.

I hope you enjoyed this impression of my birth place which I hope I haven't visited for the last time yet...

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