One of the traditions I had forgotten about after we left was Carnaval. This is not to be confused Carnival, the party hearty festival in Brazil or the masked ball time of year in Venice.
Think of Carnaval as a cross between Halloween without candy and Guy Fawkes Day without the fireworks. I remember that our prior hometown of Leguevin had a Carnaval each spring and was pleasantly surprised to see that our newly adopted hometown of Pibrac scheduled one as well.
The idea of Carnaval is that come springtime, the town makes an effigy – ‘Monsieur Carnaval’ – and put’s him ‘on trial’ for all of the wrongs that he committed last year. Then they torch him (like on Guy Fawkes Day), thus ‘guaranteeing’ good weather, abundant crops and – who knows? – fertility in general.
Alas, the first six months of this year being ‘crappy’ (an official meteorological term) – i.e., rainy and cold and what-the-heck-is a ‘sun’? – when the Carnaval was first scheduled back in March, il pleut des cordes – it’s raining ropes, which is better than raining cats and dogs, but still. Anyway, they cancelled the event.
So a few weeks ago, they tried again. The reason you need decent weather is that there’s a parade with the kids all dressed up in costumes (a la Halloween). At Lego Land, they just made a big loop through town. Here, they started at a middle school and ended up down at the big park near us. People from the mairie as well as the town police blocked off the roads.
When the kiddies and parents arrived, they were accompanied by a clown band.
Pirates and princesses, cowboys and ballerinas, police officers and super heroes:
When the gang had assembled, municipal workers brought in Mr. Carnaval, who turned out not to be anywhere near to a person-like effigy. Instead, it was a four-sided box painted with a circus theme.
And there was no trial. The workers just doused Monsieur Box with lighter fluid and – voila! – touched a torch to ‘him’ and up in flames he went.
Note: The skies were cloudy but the rain held off…until Monsieur Carnaval was reduced to just a frame. It started sprinkling and just as we made it home – about a 10-minute walk – the skies opened up. More raining of ropes. Guess M. Carnaval wasn’t happy about not receiving a trial.
PS: It rained pretty much most of the following week. Sigh.