|Einat and I enjoying the Carnival Confetti|
Limoux is a small town in Southern France, and like most European towns it has it’s own unique history. It is known for having the longest carnival in the world. It goes every Saturday and Sunday for about 10 weeks starting in January. I was able to experience just a taste of what the Limoux Carnival is all about.
One evening while enjoying a quiet dinner with a friend, a group of about 30 people decided to join us. Not to eat or drink of course, but to march around and sing in a wobbly, rambunctious, uncoordinated fashion. Now who wouldn’t like that? “All the noise, noise, noise.” It reminded me of the Whos in Whoville, playing their jingtinglers, trumptookers and gardinkers. I was quite entertained and not at all a grinch. In fact, the next night we went out again to see what else the carnival had in store.
This time it was bigger and more organized. There was a new group with matching costumes, and there were all sorts of musicians serenading the town with a more cryptic tune. As the musicians played, the group danced with a unique rhythm, only moving their arms and legs, making sure to keep heads still. It was a kind of creepy. Townspeople also came out dressed in random costumes, but there was a distinct theme, everyone was wearing a mask.
The leaders, with the townspeople following close behind, went from shop to shop in the town square, showering anyone and everyone with bright colored confetti. Finding creative ways to get confetti down peoples shirts, pants, you name it. Apparently Limoux looks forward to about seven tons of the stuff each year!
Now what’s this carnival for you ask? Well I was wondering the very same thing. They say the carnival stems back even before medieval times and has adopted new traditions along the way. The history is patchy, but they say the costumes came from a time when slaves were given one day of the year to switch places with their master. On this day they could dress and act like their masters, mock them, poke fun, and do all sorts without consequence. The masks came about to conceal the identity of the slaves with good reason. The confetti is supposed to replace the flour and sweets that were once thrown around. From what I've read, the carnival was a way for normal folk to have a voice, and it became even more popular during revolutionary times. Today, the carnival is used to bring up hot topic issues, mock political leaders and most of all, it’s an excuse to get out and party. Good times.