The Dutch don’t dress up for cycling, they dress up for where they are going. That doesn’t become much clearer than when they cycle to Carnival festivities. Carnival will still be going on for another 24 hours when I publish this post. All over the world, especially in the – formerly – Catholic regions, people celebrate the beginning of Lent with 3 days of festivities. There are huge regional differences and in the province of Brabant where I live the dominant type is called “Bourgondisch Carneval” (Burgundian Carnival) in which everybody dresses up as a peasant, to all be equal. Well-known cities for Carnival in The Netherlands are Breda and especially my home town ʼs-Hertogenbosch. The oldest mention of Carnival in The Netherlands is in fact that of ʼs-Hertogenbosch in the year 1383.
Even though you can see people dressing up in other things than the traditional blue farmer’s smock, that tradition is still upheld by young and old. In more recent years it has become more and more fashionable to decorate the smock with badges and frogs. People wear it with accessories in the colours red, white and yellow; the colours of Oeteldonk. Yes, this city, that already has two names, takes on a third name during Carnival…
It has become sort of a tradition that I film the people cycling to the festivities. This year the weather was exceptionally sunny and ‘warm’ (8.8C/47.8F), so there were even more people cycling than usual. And so I spent the afternoon filming and later editing this video. I had nothing better to do. Since I was born and raised in Utrecht – a no-Carnival city – I am simply not able to participate in the festivities. If you didn’t grow up with the tradition it is very hard to grow accustomed to it in later life. That I don’t drink alcohol doesn’t help either. And so I watch the organised silliness from a distance. I would have been better at place at work in Utrecht, but during Carnival marching bands play in my street in the middle of the night and when they are not there, the bar next door plays very loud music until 2 am, so I always take at least one day off.
But the dressed up cyclists look very colourful and this creates very enjoyable and happy images.
This year’s Carnival Video from Oeteldonk (ʼs-Hertogenbosch).