Binche, Belgium: Feb 2014
A parade of masked men known as the Gilles, all dressed identically, bustles by us on a frigid day in February, but not just any day, it’s Carnival in Belgium. A little town named Binche has a special tradition, dating back to the 14th Century, which has gone on every year unimpeded by changing times. UNESCO has even recognized this as something extraordinary and named it a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The symbols of this carnival include the orange, like many other places in Europe, the humble orange was a symbol of prosperity and celebration. The Gilles throw oranges at the crowd and it’s considered good luck to catch one, unless you catch it with your eye. The tied pack of twigs, called a ramon, represents a broomstick and is also good luck to receive. The yellow mimosa flowers represent Spring and are passed out and worn by the locals.
I love the old traditions of Europe and how they seep into daily life, and during festivals like this, you can especially experience their rich culture.
If you’re interested in visiting Belgium at this time, click here.