When you’re in the Netherlands next weekend, you’ll probably wonder why all these people are walking around all dressed up. Well, on the 15th of February the traditional Carnival starts. Do you want to join us Dutchies in three days of partying and dressing up? Then stop what you’re doing at the moment and read this post to learn everything about this tradition!
Carnival finds its origin as a Catholic holiday. You might also know it under the name ‘Mardi Gras’. Forty days before Lent, the feast was meant to eat one’s fill. The word probably comes from the Latin Carne, vale that means something like ‘Goodbye, meat’. This year the festivities will be held from the 15th till the 17th of February.
If you want to celebrate carnival in the Netherlands, you have to look at the south part of the country, as it’s mostly celebrated in Limburg and Noord-Brabant. The season starts every year on 11/11 at 11:11 o’clock, as eleven is the number of fools and lunatics. On the first day the local major of a town gives the key of it to Prince Carnival, who is now the boss for three days.
The city Maastricht is the place to be on these days. Dress up, otherwise you’ll definitely be out of place! The celebrations in Maastricht are somewhat different than in the rest of the country. On Sunday, it starts at 11:11 o’clock with cannon shots. After this an extensive procession with decorated floats starts (called Groete Optoch) with directly after that a huge street party. On Tuesday the zate hermeniekes (marching bands) wander through the city. They can get trophies for things like playing the loudest and the most terrible.
No party without some music. To get in the mood, here is a typical Dutch carnival song, which you will for sure hear during this year’s festivities.