Carnaval CasselCarnaval Cassel
©Carnaval Cassel |Destination Coeur de Flandre
Seeing a giant at the carnival

Seeing a giant at the carnival

They are flamboyant and important figures. They are made of fabric, papier mâché, wood. They represent an emblem or symbol of a village. Do you think that’s quaint? It’s much more than that. Let us tell you about your future tête-à-tête with a giant.

A day of celebration

Imagine it is the day of the carnival. You are intoxicated by the whirlwind of colours and costumes. Suddenly, music rings out from the corner of the street. Your stares fall on the approaching musicians, as the sun reflects off the brass instruments. Then a colourful silhouette, made of wicker, appears. It captures the attention of a group of men who surround it. Children admire it, and so does everyone else. You are facing a giant, a real tribute to Flemish popular culture.

A local emblem

Here, almost every village has its own giants. All year, they hide away and rest, waiting for the all-important moment of the carnival. In Cassel, Reuze Papa takes part in the Winter Carnival, to the sound of the Reuze Liede, its famous ritornello. He then accompanies Reuze Maman on Easter Monday. During the first steps of the marching band, you can feel the emotion of the musicians playing for their giants that they haven’t seen all year.

In Bailleul, it is impossible to imagine a carnival without Gargantua who takes part from Friday evening. The giants are local symbols, representing famous or legendary historical figures from the town. In Godewaersvelde, the carnival takes place under the kindly eye of Henri le Douanier, who came to represent the proximity of the Belgian border. In Hazebrouck, Tisje-Tasje and all his family are an integral part of the historic procession of mid-Lent. In Steenvoorde, Jean le Bûcheron, the Belle-Hélène, Rosalie and Edgar l’Motard are in all the processions.

A member of the family

Once the celebrations are over, the carnival-goers give their giants an emotional goodbye, such as on Shrove Tuesday evening, when those from Bailleul accompany Gargantua on his return. More than just a symbol, the giant is a member of the family, the one that we see at every celebration, the one who amazes us. Ask the kids, they all have a favourite giant. They may even prefer them to super heroes! They like to keep the carnival maps, programmes and posters with giants on them. And when they’re older, they’ll pass on this fondness to their own children. A figure of celebration, a comforting figure, a local figure; there’s no doubt about it, the giants are VIPs amongst the Flemish!