March 2011: Carnival crowds cram Catholic counties in the Netherlands
Carnival celebrations have begun in many parts of the Netherlands, mostly in the traditionally Catholic south, where thousands of costumed revellers have been parading through the streets, eating and drinking well into the night.
The bawdy bashes and street parties began at different times, depending on the hour that the municipal authorities handed over the city keys to the hundreds of Carnival Princes, who will wield the sceptre until Wednesday. One of today's highlights was the float parade, which every year draws huge crowds.
The festive season ends on Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the forty-day period leading up to Easter. The 40-day fasting period represents the time that Jesus, according to the Bible, spent in the desert, where he fasted for forty days and was tempted by Satan.
The oldest-known Dutch carnival festivities date from 1385 in 's-Hertogenbosch. They are depicted in several paintings of the 15th-century painter Jheronimus Bosch. For the three days of the carnival, 's-Hertogenbosch changes its name to "Oeteldonk," which means "Frog Hill." This name changing tradition is common in and around North Brabant.
The main Carnival provinces are Limburg and (south) Brabant, both near the Belgian border, with Maastricht usually regarded as top Carnival town. Carnival towns in the north are growing in their enthusiams for Carnival and you will see celebrations in pubs and other venues even if not on the street.
RNW/ Wikipedia/ Expatica
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