text Malini Witlox photography Joyce van Belkom/HH
Carnival: WTF? Do not be frightened when you come across all kinds of weirdly dressed people around town between 17 and 22 February. We, the people of Tilburg have not gone nuts – well, no more than usual. It’s just Carnival (Dutch: Carnaval), a holi day characteristic of the Catholic southern part of the Netherlands. But what is it all about? Univers offers you a Carnival crash course.
Why Carnival? Carnival is a Catholic celebration. The phrase ‘carne vale’ literally means ‘farewell to meat’. Back in the day, when the people living in the south of the Netherlands still strictly practised their Catholic beliefs, the Roman Catholics abstained from treats such as candy and biscuits, and sometimes meat as well, between the days of Ash Wednesday and Easter. However, fasting for six weeks is quite an arduous task. That’s why they indulged in a great party for several days, before the trying days ahead. Nowadays, the fasting bit isn’t taken that seriously anymore. Nonetheless, some students live a little more austerely and abstain from alcohol between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
So when is it going on? The date for the Carnival holiday depends on the day that Easter is celebrated. Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 (the beginning of Spring). The period of fasting lasts forty days, which means that Carnival starts about six weeks before Easter.
Where should you go?
Univers 9 februari 2012
Carnival is mostly celebrated in the south (in the provinces Noord-Brabant, Limburg and parts of Gelderland), though the North of the country is increasingly fond of it as well. During Carnival, Cities are known by a different nickname. Tilburg is ‘Jug Town’ (Kruikenstad). Be sure to see ‘D’n Opstoet’ on Sunday; this is the yearly Carnival procession through the centre of town. This
year’s motto is: ‘Ge wit ôot nôot nie’ which is Dutch dialect for: Everything can happen!
Do’s and don’ts Do not go into town in your normal everyday outfit. Dressing up is compulsory. There are several shops which sell carnival outfits. Some usual suspects are soldiers, princesses, stewardesses and police officers. Do not be shy. Just enjoy chatting to any adult dressed as a banana or a wizard. Hang out in the pub after the procession, in nearly every pub something fun will be going on. You won’t be hearing any regular music during these days. You’ll have to make do with straight-up Carnival classics such as ‘Nie knieze, nie zeure’ (‘No Worry, No Whine’), or ‘Bij ons staat op de keukendeur’ (Do You See On Our Kitchendoor). These songs don’t require any technical dancing, but you will be doing a good old jig (dancing wildly in a line of people, behind one another). Do be aware that you often can’t use regular money to pay for drinks. This is what the jugcoin (kruikenmunt) is for (costing 2.20 euro per coin). Only pussies drink Spa blue; it’s Carnival and you should be drinking either beer or Schrobbelèr (a herbal liqueur specific to Tilburg).
Who are the Jugpissers (Kruikenzeikers)? When it’s Carnival, ‘Jugpisser’ is a pet name for the Tilburger, derived from Tilburg’s Carnival name Jugtown. The name originates from the time when Tilburg was known for its textile industry. In those days, the workers were required to collect their urine in a jug. This was used for manufacturing textile.
Univers Magazine, 9 februari 2012. www.universonline.nl Uitgeverij: Tilburg University. Auteur: Malini Witlox