In the seventeenth century, the word 'carnival' prevailed as a term for festivities marked by masquerades, parades, a focus on mock-hierarchy and excessive eating and drinking. In the Middle Ages this was called the Shrove Tuesday celebration, at which one would hold a last loud binge on food and drink before committing to Lent on Ash Wednesday and preparing for Easter. One of the explanations for the word 'carnival' links the lavish feast to the subsequent fast: 'carne vale' means as much as 'good-bye meat'. Another explanation for the word is found in the supposed derivation from 'carrus navalis', a boat on wheels hauled through the streets by disguised revellers.
Carnival in the Netherlands
Carnival is a festival which mainly in the provinces Limburg and North Brabant gets a firm hold of every day life for three days. Costumed party-goers march through the streets and meet in bars and party halls. The locations are decorated with masks and streamers, and the party music is mainly composed of special carnival songs.
The exact dates of celebration depend on the varying date on which Easter is celebrated every year. The seventh Sunday preceding Easter Sunday is carnival Sunday. On carnival Saturday or Sunday, the many 'Kings Carnival' wrest control over villages and cities from the civil authorities (the so-called assumption of power or the handing over of keys) and celebrate with their subordinates, the revellers, the ephemeral establishment of their kingdom of fools. Party-goers dress up as they wish and take control of the streets and bars in a three day long carnival flush. During one of these three days, the procession parades through the streets: King Carnival's march of triumph. Finally, on Shrove Tuesday at midnight, many places hold a collective finishing ceremony to bid farewell to the kingdom of fools and its King. Carnival mascots and symbols are burnt, buried or drowned. On Ash Wednesday, every day life resumes its course.