Carnival of Binche
The carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche
Binche is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. On January 1, 2006 Binche had a total population of 32,409. The total area is 60.66 km² which gives a population density of 534 inhabitants per km²...
during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter...
. The carnival is the most known of several others that take place in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...
at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity listed by UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...
. Its history dates back to approximately the 14th century.
Events related to the carnival begin up to seven weeks prior to the primary celebrations. Street performances and public displays traditionally occur on the Sundays approaching Ash Wednesday, consisting of prescribed musical acts, dancing, and marching
See also: Loaded marchMarching refers to the organized, uniformed, steady and rhythmic walking forward, usually associated with military troops.Marching is often performed to march music, and often associated with military parades....
. Large numbers of Binche's inhabitants spend the Sunday directly prior to Ash Wednesday in costume.
The centrepiece of the carnival's proceedings are clown-like performers known as Gilles
The Gilles are the oldest and principal participants in the Carnival of Binche in Belgium. Other cities, such as Nivelles have a tradition of Gilles at carnival, but the Carnival of Binche is by far the most famous....
. Appearing, for the most part, on "Shrove" Tuesday, the Gilles are characterised by their vibrant dress, wax masks and wooden footwear. They number up to 1,000 at any given time, range in age from 3 to 60, and are customarily male. The honour of being a Gille at the carnival is something that is to be aspired to by local men. From dawn on the morning of the carnival's final day, Gilles appear in the centre of Binche, to dance to the sound of drums and ward evil spirits away with sticks. Later, during the day, they don large hats adorned with ostrich
The Ostrich is one or two species of large flightless birds native to Africa, the only living member of the genus Struthio. Some analyses indicate that the Somali Ostrich may be better considered a full species apart from the Common Ostrich, but most taxonomists consider it to be a...
plumes, which can cost upwards of $300 US dollars to rent, and march through the town with baskets of oranges. These oranges are thrown to, and sometimes at, members of the crowd gathered to view the procession. The vigour and longevity of the orange throwing event has in past caused damage to property – some residents choose to seal windows to prevent this.
- The 'Gilles' of Binche. (On the Belgian federal portal site)
- Binche: from the conquistadores to the ‘Gilles’. (On the European online magazine cafebabel.com published by the non-governmental association Babel International) Official site of the Carnival of Binche. BrusselsLife - Eurokom Media. Retrieved 2009-02-24
- Gilles de Binche Carnival.