Carnival in the Netherlands
One of the most anticipated times of the year for many residents of the Netherlands is Carnival (Dutch. Carnaval). It is most often celebrated in the regions of North Brabant (Dutch. Noord-Brabant) and Limburg (Dutch. Limburg), and sometimes also in individual towns scattered across other provinces.
Carnival was originally a pagan holiday. The Christian Church has introduced them into its calendar to mark the three days preceding Ash Wednesday which mark the beginning of Lent, which is to prepare the faithful to experience Easter. In the past, Carnaval was celebrated throughout the Netherland but since World War II Carnival has been celebrated primarily in the Catholic provinces of North Brabant and Limburg.
Carnival celebrations in the Netherlands in 2023 will take place from February 18-21.
Interestingly, preparations for this holiday always begin on November 11 (11/11) at 11:11. The number 11 is the “fool’s number” in the Netherlands.
Every year on November 11 the Prince of Carnival is elected in individual cities to whom the mayor hands over power and the keys to the city on the first day of Carnival. This gesture symbolizes the suspension of everyday life and the beginning of fun. The Prince is ultimately responsible for the city for the three days of the event.
The most important Dutch carnival traditions include:
- dressing up in costumes, a large selection of which can be found in most stores from January or making them yourself;
- role reversal, where, as the name suggests, men dress up as women and women dress up as men;
- drinking a traditional herbal liqueur called Schrobbeler.
The highlight of the carnival celebrations is the Carnival Parade, during which local authorities, international leaders and social conventions are ridiculed.