The Dutch Limburg province’s capital of Maastricht holds a yearly street Carnival featuring elaborate costumes that resemble some South American and Venetian influences. Intentionally amateurish marching bands (‘Zaate Herremeniekes’ or ‘Drunken Marching Bands’) traditionally perform on the streets.
Carnival (in Limburgian language: “Vastelaovend”) is originally a Pagan spring festival, with an emphasis on role-reversal and suspension of social norms. The feast became assimilated by the Christian catholic church and is celebrated in the three days preceding ash Wednesday and lent.
From an anthropological point of view, Carnival is a reversal ritual, in which social roles are reversed and behavioural norms are suspended. Carnival can also be regarded as a rite of passage from darkness to light, from winter to summer: a fertility celebration, the first spring festival of the new year.
In modern times the connection with religion has disappeared, though its date is still set before the start of the Christian feast of lent. Also the core of the modern Carnival has retained its socially critical function by role reversal and temporary abandonment of social norms. The first day of Carnival is six weeks before Easter Sunday. Carnival officially begins on Sunday and lasts three days till midnight on the Tuesday after.