World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Carnival of Binche

Article Id: WHEBN0010493642
Reproduction Date:

Title: Carnival of Binche  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mardi Gras, Carnivals, Sand drawing, Royal Ballet of Cambodia, Mardi Gras in the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Carnival of Binche

The Gilles, clad in their costumes and wax masks and wielding sticks used to ward off spirits
The town of Binche

The carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday.[1] The carnival is the best known of several that take place in Belgium at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity listed by UNESCO.[2] Its history dates back to approximately the 14th century.[3]

Events related to the carnival begin up to seven weeks prior to the primary celebrations. Street performances and public displays traditionally occur on the Sundays approaching Ash Wednesday, consisting of prescribed musical acts, dancing, and marching. Large numbers of Binche's inhabitants spend the Sunday directly prior to Ash Wednesday in costume.[3]

The centrepiece of the carnival's proceedings are clown-like performers known as Gilles. Appearing, for the most part, on Shrove[4] Tuesday, the Gilles are characterised by their vibrant dress, wax masks and wooden footwear.[1] They number up to 1,000 at any given time, range in age from 3 to 60 years old, and are customarily male. The honour of being a Gille at the carnival is something that is aspired to by local men.[1] From dawn on the morning of the carnival's final day, Gilles appear in the centre of Binche, to dance to the sound of drums and ward off evil spirits with sticks.[2] Later during the day, they don large hats adorned with ostrich plumes, which can cost more than $300 US dollars to rent,[5] and march through the town with baskets of oranges. These oranges are thrown to,[3] and sometimes at,[2][6] members of the crowd gathered to view the procession.[7] The vigour and longevity of the orange-throwing event has in past caused damage to property – some residents choose to seal windows to prevent this.[6] The oranges are considered good luck because they are a gift from the Gilles and it is an insult to throw them back.

The Gilles wearing their hat with ostrich feathers


  1. ^ a b c Spencer, p.16
  2. ^ a b c Logan p.223
  3. ^ a b c Dunford, p.296
  4. ^ Spencer, p.17
  5. ^ Harris, p.179
  6. ^ a b Pateman, p.116
  7. ^ As Logan (2007) and Pateman (2006) note, the tradition of throwing oranges at members of the crowd is done in good spirit and not out of aggression, and to be hit was traditionally considered something to be proud of.


External links

  • BrusselsLife: Binche Carnival
  • Official site of the Carnival of Binche (English) (French) (Dutch)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.