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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in the Netherlands Series at DutchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Dutch holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7. Carnival. In Dutch, this is [carnaval]
Carnival is a well-known festive season that starts along with Lent, 40 days before Easter Sunday. Carnival in the Netherlands officially starts on a Sunday and continues through the following Tuesday. Sometimes celebrations even started as early as the Wednesday, or [woensdag] in Dutch, before Carnival officially begins.
In this lesson, we'll discuss customs associated with the Dutch Carnival celebration.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What number, also known as the fool’s number, is symbolic for the days of Carnival?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Carnival officially lasts from the Sunday 40 days before Easter until the following Tuesday. The Netherlands, however, also recognizes “Carnival season”, which begins on November 11 at 11:11. In the Netherlands, a bona fide ceremony is held to kick off Carnival season in each city, or [stad] in Dutch, where it is celebrated. In [Maastricht], for example, a large event is put on drawing some 30,000 visitors each year.
Carnival was originally a big grubfest, signifying one last opportunity to chow down on some good food before the start of the forty-day fast. Everything down to the crumbs or [kruimel] was eaten in every household since it would spoil otherwise during fasting; and that, of course, would be a sin. The reason for fasting is to commemorate the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert with only the bare necessities. Currently, however, fasting isn’t really a hard-and-fast thing in the Netherlands, though the Dutch do celebrate in another very remarkable way.
During Carnival season the Carnival Prince is officially announced, an unveiling which always attracts a crowd. The Carnival Prince, or [Prins Carnaval] in Dutch, is usually someone who has been active in the local Carnival scene in the past. It could also be a well-known figure, such as the President of a local soccer club or the owner of a big company. On rare occasions, one can even nominate oneself for consideration, but the final decision always rests with the carnival association.
Cities and towns that celebrate Carnival will also take on temporary Carnival nicknames, or [bijnaam], during the Carnival season. [Tilburg], for instance, becomes [Kruikenstad], meaning “Jug City”, [Eindhoven] becomes [Lampegat], meaning “City of Light”, and [Den Bosch] becomes [Oeteldonk], meaning “Frog Hill.”
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What number, also known as the fool’s number, is symbolic for the days of Carnival?
It’s the number eleven. This number is regarded as the fool’s or jester’s number. If you count the letters in the words "fool’s number", you’ll end up with exactly eleven letters.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How would you like to dress up for Carnival?
Leave us your comments on DutchPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.