I know, it’s been a while since the last time I update something in this messy blog (is it a suitable word to describe it?). The thing is, honestly, I stuck in Gent for almost 2 month (not counting the time when I went back to Indonesia for semester break). And finally, after looking forward to any kind of carnival, I found out one of iconic and popular festival in Belgium! Yay! It means I only have to hop on the train and enjoy the trip in short time (only). So, where was it?
It is a super well-known town in Wallonia area, the French-speaking region, due to its yearly carnival. Having stayed in Flanders area, it seems common to Flanders citizens to ignore (indirectly) other areas except in Flanders, poorly it happens as well to Wallonia citizens. That’s why it was quite hard to find further information about this area from the “Belgium” friends. Moreover, nothing can be expected more from this holy internet. Tripadvisor? Lonely Planet? Google? You name it! Nothing, I find almost nothing about the other attraction spots or foods. The carnival is the one and only hope for this town. *sigh
So, why I will share you story about this city? Yes, the carnival! Yiha!!
The Carnival of Binche
Based on the official website, this carnival is a living exceptional heritage, a popular, human and social event. It is recognized as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by Unesco in 2003. During a few months, before February, the communities and government of Binche prepared this festival seriously, since it is the most important moment in the city. The carnival was happened on 15, 16, and 17 February with different program for each shrove day.
There are some fix participants which indicated by different costumes in this festival. They are Pierrots, Arlequins, Peasant, Gilles, the wife of Gilles, musicians, and society (detail here). Two costumes easily attracted my eyes. The first one was Gilles, since it was the most important role in this festival. Second one is the Arlequins, because most of the participants were uber cute toddlers!
I went to Binche on Shrove Tuesday, since it was the highlight of the festival. Let me share you the stories starts from the moment I arrived at that city, okay?
Stepped out from the Binche Station with ton of visitors, I saw big group of gilles were dancing statically in front of one local restaurant. It was around 9.30 AM at that time. Based on the schedule, it was time for the gilles to have rest, since the carnival had started since early morning. Well, I still had time around 5-10 minutes to join the crowd and dance together with the other tourists. Anyway, since the dance was very easy and boring at the same time, hahaha, everyone could easily take part behind the gilles. Why do I say it was boring? The dance was too simple!! It was just like you only have to step your left feet and right feet and again and again, simultaneously with the beat of music. But, the good thing is that everyone, including one who has no basic on dancing, could had fun too.
The most major part of this carnival was the moment when the participants of carnival threw away oranges to the audiences. The visitors stood up behind very long gate and wait for the coming of the participants. One by one, from the Pierrots, Arlequins, Peasant, and lastly Gilles entered the area with bag full of oranges and threw away the oranges to the audiences. It was super fun! Since my position was exactly in front of the gate, I could freely ask for the oranges. At last I got nine oranges without big efforts, I mean only with serious eye contact to the participants. Haha. Funny thing was that one family next to me brought two big plastic bags to compile all of “the results”. Hahhaa.
I recommend you to join the crowd of this carnival next year. I believe that you won’t refuse the easy dancing part and getting the free oranges part.
Join this crowd! :D
Oki, tot ziens!