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Friday & Saturday: Pre-Carnival

pub decorationsAlthough Carnival this year was officially February 14 – 16th, the cafes and pubs had already set themselves up to accommodate weekend visitors who wanted a drink on Friday and Saturday. Since Friday is the first day of the vacation weekend many people consider it the best night to go out and enjoy a little of the Carnival spirit before too many people get drunk.

Friday

With that in mind, Dan & I went out Friday night for a few drinks with some people from the University. The cafe had all the tables removed to accommodate the crowds and while it wasn’t bad when we first arrived when I left an hour later people were packed in like sardines. The Perron was offering a drinks deal (5 for 10 euros) and I was hard pressed to keep up with the fast pace our Dutch colleagues set. There were a handful of costumed revelers, but it was too early for most people. Colorful scarves and hats did make an appearance and maybe next year my own Carnival colors scarf is in order.

Prince Placing Wreath

Saturday

Saturday the official “transfer of power” took place at the Town Hall on Markt Square after the Great Prince’s arrival in Maastricht. Control of Maastricht is ceremonially given to the Prince during Carnival as a symbolic role reversal between the ruler and the peasant. Dan and I went down to the Markt square to watch, but after some music and hanging a vegetable wreath around a Mooswief statue the officials all went inside to perform the actual ceremonies. A small group of other revelers had watched the parade and wreath ceremony with us and when they all left we knew it was time to go as well. After standing in the cold for an hour I was disappointed.

Saturday Moterfiets Contingent

As a bit of an aside, it struck me then that the “official” activities of Carnival are something of a boy’s club; none of the Tempeleer members present were women. The Tempeleers are Maastricht’s local “secret society” which organizes Carnival every year. You can generally recognize a member from his red, yellow, and green jester-like hat during the appropriate season.

We also noticed that a lot of stores had not only shut down for the long weekend (Monday and Tuesday were days off for most workers), they also had boarded themselves up as if a hurricane was coming through. Clearly some years people can get out of hand. We saw a couple of police wagons and some security here and there later in the weekend but nothing else while we were out.

This is the first article in my Alaaf! Carnival 2010 Recap Series.

2 Responses to “Friday & Saturday: Pre-Carnival”

  1. pinkymcpie says:

    you are a brave woman to participate in Carnival! I have never been and I do NOT understand it for the life of me (but then again, I also don’t get the appeal of drinking oneself silly on Queen’s Day either); my stepkids participate in the kid-version, but I think that Carnival here in Gelderland is different from Maastricht!

    In either case, great experience for you and Dan! great photos as well!

  2. locusta says:

    I’m glad you liked the photos. I’m not generally the drink oneself silly type either, but I really wanted to see what the hype was all about. Honestly I spent a lot of Carnival sober, or nearly so, and still had a great time.

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