Carnival is a time for joy, where everyone pours onto the streets to meet each other and let go of the oppressions that society imposes on them as a way of social control. Despite being linked to pagan rituals, the carnival date is related with the Christian holiday of Lent, and that´s why they´re all celebrated on different dates in February.
Amsterdam is one of the European cities that carries out a carnival every year. Despite that these parties aren´t part of its culture, the Latin American immigrants have transferred their beliefs and expressions to this cosmopolitan city. This year, the Amsterdam Carnival will take place on Saturday 18th of February and, like every year, the city will dress up to see and listen all the dances.
The carnival begins after the Mayor symbolically gave the keys of the city to the Carnival King. While the party lasts, the Carnival King is the owner of the city and imposes all of his rules in order to transform formality, sadness and obligations into collective joy. During his reign, the city dresses up with feathers and shiny colours.
This celebration, that has brought the citizens of Amsterdam to craziness, has clear Latin American influences, especially from the Rio Carnival, since it´s the community that has the most relevance in its organization. Also, this carnival has influenced the aesthetics of most of these celebrations by being one of the most famous around the world.
For the carnival parades, the Latin communities prepare themselves all year long and each express their culture rather than their religiousness with their music, dances, choreographies and costumes. Carnival is symbolized with the celebration of the god Momo, a pagan expression that pays tribute to the ancient Greek mythology god that represents sarcasm, irony and jest. Momo was the god of poets and writers.
Together with the dance, the music and the gabble, the Amsterdam carnival distends the life of its citizens. To the street party they add new activities in restaurants with Latin American specialities, that on that day fill up with people looking for typical food and emotions that add to the carnival.
Drinking in the street is part of these celebrations because social censorship takes a step back. The serious citizens make the most of it and sing and dance and dress up with a costume or colourful clothes, reminding us that everything is allowed during carnival and that, for a day, we can forget who we are in order to live the fiction that we desire.
Part of the Dutch carnival culture is to go from bar to bar celebrating a day of craziness while they toast three times with a shout of ?Alaaf!”. To it, they add many visitors and communities of immigrants that, for a day, are all equal in happiness, something that´s part of the philosophy of carnivals around the world.
If you want to live a few days of madness, rent apartments in Amsterdam and go out on the streets to live this carnival!