Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for Yearbook

Another treasured item on my bookshelves is my high school yearbook from my seventh grade year in Belgium.  It's the only yearbook I own as we moved from Belgium to England for the remainder of my high school years and they don't have yearbooks (or at least they didn't have then).

This is the cover of Le Lion '73 - those are the Gilles of the Carnival of Binche which takes place on the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday.
The centrepiece of the carnival's proceedings are clown-like performers known as Gilles. Appearing, for the most part, on Shrove Tuesday, the Gilles are characterised by their vibrant dress, wax masks and wooden footwear. 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. 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. Later during the day, they don large hats adorned with ostrich plumes, which can cost more than $300 to rent, and march through the town with baskets of oranges. These oranges are thrown to, and sometimes at, members of the crowd gathered to view the procession. 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. The oranges are considered good luck because they are a gift from the Gilles and it is an insult to throw them back. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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