The Gilles are the oldest and principal participants in the Carnival of Binche
Carnival of Binche
The carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. The carnival is the most known of several others that take place in Belgium at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the...

 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...

. Other cities, such as Nivelles
Nivelles is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. The Nivelles municipality includes the old communes of Baulers, Bornival, Thines, and Monstreux....

 have a tradition of Gilles at carnival, but the Carnival of Binche is by far the most famous.

There are around 1000 Gilles, all male, some as young as 3 years old. All wear the traditional costume of the Gille.

They go out on Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday is a term used in English-speaking countries, especially in Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Germany, and parts of the United States for the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of fasting and prayer called Lent.The...

 from 4AM until late hours and dance to traditional songs. However, many other cities such as

In 2003, the Carnival of Binche was proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity was made by the Director-General of UNESCO starting in 2001 to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage and encourage local communities to protect them and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural...

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...



The Gilles all wear a particular traditional costume on Shrove Tuesday.

The outfit features a linen suit with red, yellow and black heraldic designs (the colours of the Belgian flag), trimmed with large white lace cuffs and collars. The suit is stuffed with straw, giving the Gille a hunched back.

They also wear wooden clogs and have bells attached to their belts.

In the morning they wear a mask of a particular design. After reaching the town hall, they remove these masks — they are not worn in the afternoon. During the afternoon parade, they throw blood oranges to (and sometimes at) the crowd and some of the Gilles wear large, white, feathered hats.

They carry ramons, tied bunches of twigs, and baskets in which to carry the oranges.
Their sticks are said to ward off evil spirits.

External links

Official site of Binche Official site of Nivelles International Carnival & Mask Museum in Binche Traditional tambourines
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