Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy CARNIVAL from Aalst

I have never, ever celebrated Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Carnival before. And we are Presbyterians so while we do Easter up right, we seem to be more passive with Lent and the build up to Lent as a denomination. At least in my assessment. Not sure why that is. I have yet to give something up for Lent in my lifetime. So, when I heard about the countless Carnival celebrations leading up to Mardi Gras in Europe as a whole and in Belgium specifically, imagine my surprise. We are having a ball marking all of the other new holidays here, so why not join in the Carnival festivities? So on Sunday we traveled to Aalst, Belgium with our friends Dallas and Thomas Stromberg. Aalst is in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium and about 45 minutes from Brussels. We arrived in the third hour of a 5 hour long Carnival Parade. Yes, you read that right. A 5 hour parade. This parade was complete with huge floats, marching bands and lots of clowns. And I am not sure why it had to be this way - but the parade had an element of European humor that included a lot of off-color components. The participants in the parade were all men dressed as women in drag or scantily clad. I think it is a tradition centuries old. So it has been and will continue to be!And most of the floats had a clear political caricature to them. Made me wish I knew more about Belgian and European politicians so I could better understand the satire. Although I did and could certainly appreciate those making fun of Belgian bureaucracy and the infamous red tape of the government. We have definitely experienced that! Covering every inch of the streets of the town was confetti. Imagine how much fun never ending confetti is for an almost-two-year-old! How can bits of paper be so wonderful? We now have tag-a-long confetti all over our house and in every crevice of our car as a reminder of and a souvenir from the Aalst Carnival confetti fun! Also, apparently we didn't get the memo but everyone dresses up in costume for the occasion. Those in the parade as well as those on the street. They dress up in whatever. Young and old. It is a fun twist of Halloween and New Years smushed together for Carnival.
Thomas and Dallas are both accomplished and amazing photographers (by hobby not by trade) so it was an extra special bonus to have them along. They took gorgeous photos of Connor. They weren't just fabulous photographers, but they also seemed to clearly enjoy time with her and relish in all of Connor's toddler moments. Thank goodness for friends like that. They took these 3 photos below.
We stayed for a couple hours of the parade and then were pooped. We came, we saw, we laughed, we ate (traditional beignets), and we had a lot of fun together. The party clearly continued into the wee hours of the night despite our departure!

Click here for Aalst Carnival Parade on Sunday (Full Album)

1 comment:

Dallas said...

We had a great time at the Carnival with you guys.