Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Italian carnival - St Rhemy en Bosses

Here in Sweden there is no real carnival tradition. Or better, there is, but it is just a mimic of what we have in the countries where this exists and it doesn't happen at the right time of the year or not even every year.
In Lund they do organize a carnival, which is a "procession" of big wagons where the students are dressed up as something. This parade is nothing usually very fancy. The students they have possibly a good time, but for a person coming from Italy, this is a bit odd. Or at least, it was for me when I assisted to the first and only Lundakarnevalen in the far 2002.

Anyway, since our kids are half italians, we thought that they need to get some experience of something that it is instead very normal from an Italian point of view.
We do celebrate carnival every year, just before the Lent start. In fact, the idea behind the Carneval is to enjoy before those forty days of preparation to Easter, when one should fast and do penance.
For the Roman Catholic tradition, the big day is Shrove Tuesday and the weekend before that, in most cities some parade is organized.

Where I grow up, big wagons where organized processing around the town with people dressed up in all sort of masks. The kids throws confetti and streamers, the wagons themes are usually a parody of something political, but they are pretty advanced.
We chose to combine our "carnival trip" with a visit to the Alps and in the town where we were, St Rhemy en Bosses, there is the tradition to mimic instead Napoleon.
Napoleon and his troops, during 1800, they came through the Saint Bernard Pass for fighting the Austrian army. Without going into too many historical details, this has been of course a very important event for the valley.

Napoleon and his troops in the small hamlet of Cerisey
What we assisted was a small reenactment of the napoleonic army, where each soldier had a mask on.
They arrived in a small open space, dance a little and then they mainly ate and drank, joking with the people who were looking at the parade (and eating as well).

Isabella was unfortunately totally frightened and cried most of the time. A car with the loudspeakers arrived before the soldiers and the wind sound scared her off. The masks also didn't make her feel more relaxed.
Oscar instead ended up in the arms of Napoleon. Well, almost as history teaches ;-)
The soldiers are eating.
Napoleonic troops

Napoleon is taking a break
As far as I have understood, the carnival in Saint Rhemy en Bosses is organized so that the people who are representing Napoleon and his troops move from hamlet to hamlet and when they are in a place they enjoy eating, dancing and having fun.
With the army and Napoleon there are also some other masks, like the devil, which are part of the parade.
This was very different from what I have been growing up with, so it was a new experience also for me.
First of all, there was basically noone. Few locals and us were expecting the parade. This made it cosy and also more enjoyable since there was definitely no confusion.
The lack of wagons was a big difference, but I do understand that with small roads and a lot of uphills they couldn't have had the big things that there are in the bigger towns.
The nicer touch was that we also had the possibility to eat some food. Nice home baked apple pies, wonderful salame and mocetta, local cheeses. Water, sodas and even wine was served. At least, with the chips Isabella finally could enjoyed a bit.
One of the several plates of food we shared
The hope we have is that if we will manage to assist to this in other occasions, Isabella will be more relaxed. Now, we also know what to expect, so for sure we will be prepared to eat a lot! Afterall, everyone thinks that Mattias is French and hence he is being honored as such!

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  1. Wow! What an amazing carnival pictures! So, how you managed this carnival in very short time of period? I think hosting any event is really very difficult task as I was searching for affordable party venues in Houston from last few days but still waiting for good results.

  2. I am sorry, but this is organized by the community and it is done on an yearly basis. They have quite some established routines around the Carnival!


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