C is for…

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch!

C is for Carnaval.

Here the Carnaval colors are covering up the original colors of the Limburg flag
Here the Carnaval colors are covering up the original colors of the Limburg flag

Every year right before Lent there is a celebration called Carnaval. In America we usually just celebrate Mardi Gras on the tuesday right before Ash Wednesday, but in lots of places they have a celebration for a whole week.

In the Netherlands, especially the south, where I live, Carnaval is the biggest celebration of the year. They have parties and parades every day.

In the Netherlands each town has a special prince who is given the keys to the city, and he is in charge for all of Carnaval. There is a new prince every year, and he is elected a few weeks before Christmas. The prince carries around a special scepter, and everyone in the town tries to steal it from him. If they steal it from him, he has to buy them lots of beer. To make sure nobody steals his scepter, the prince picks a man from the town to be his body guard and keep his scepter safe.

In the Netherlands people dress up in funny costumes for Carnaval, and every day they try to dress in a different costume. It is kind of like Halloween, except they don’t go trick-or-treating.

During Carnaval in the Netherlands, the number 11 is very important, and so they try to start everything either in the 11th hour or on the 11th minute of the hour.

During Mardi Gras in America we usually decorate with the colors green, purple, and gold. In the Netherlands they decorate with green, red, and yellow. During Carnaval many people hang green, red, and yellow flags from their houses and they try to wear this colors when they dress up for the parties and parades.

During Carnaval when you see someone you know or if you are at a party, you don’t say hello to them, but instead you say “Alaaf!” and you salute them.

In our town the symbol of Carnaval is the owl. At the beginning of Carnaval they hang a crest on the town hall with an owl on it and they have a children’s parade with lots of music to tell everyone that Carnaval has started. At the end of Carnaval they take down the owl crest and they have fireworks to tell everyone that Carnaval is over.

Carnaval is full of funny music and silly costumes. It is one of the best times to be in the South of the Netherlands because there is always something fun happening.


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