In the 19th century, the carnival was a very popular tradition in Tournai. For some reason it faded away between the two world wars. For a while Tournai had to live only with “Les 4 Corteges” and “La Grande procession”, two other big events but, we have to admit it, which lacks of fun!
Luckily in the beginning of the 80s, a couple of persons tried to relaunch the tradition. We can now say it is a big success! From a couple hundreds persons, the carnival is now gathering several thousands of partying people. It is organized every year the WE following the “Laetare” (4th Sunday of the Catholic Lent)
Different associations took again the same name as in the past: Cartelettes, pierrots, vieux célibataires, sorcières, porporas de Masure 14, Gilles de St Piat and pêcheurs napolitains.
The major events of the Carnival is on friday “La Nuit des Intrigues”, a show (which theme change every year) mixed with fireworks, and on saturday the dance.
As a side note, there is also a “Statues Carnival”, every major statues of Tournai are also disguised…
This year (2004) the carnival will take place the 19th and 20th Mars and the theme is '3004...Grands Trucmuches et Petits Bidules' (vaguely translated by "Big stuff and little thingies")
Since the beginning of the 20th century this association is gathering and its members present their own written song...
Just a detail, all the songs are written in Tournaisian; the local dialect from Tournai.
The important meetings are broadcasted on the local TV and sometime even on the national one...
You could listen to some of their songs by visiting the link I've mentionned below (Real Audio).
The picture shows 'l Pichou de St Piat, a recent statue to the glory of the local singers.
Officially called the museum of folklore, the Tournaisians prefer to call it the Tournaisian House / la Maison Tournaisienne since it describes their own life. It is located behind the Grand Place in two buildings from the 17th century.
The masterpiece is probably the model of the city as it was in 1701. This work had been ordered by Louis XIV himself and the original is now in Paris.
Here is the traditional song of Tournai. At least this is its beginning, have a look to the external website for the full version and to listen to the mp3 : http://www.chez.com/tournaisienne/chants/tournaisiens.mp3
Even the french speakers won't understand too much of the lyrics! It is written in "Tournaisien", the local dialect. It is indeed closer to "Picard", the dialect spoken in the north of France, than to Walloon, the dialects spoken in the south part of Belgium.
Le Ray l'a dit, d'dins les guerr's de la France,
Quand l'caporal s'appreteot a buquer,
S'ertournant su s' n-officier d'ordonnance
"Dis deonc, l'ami, c'qu'on peut beteot qu'mincher?
Not' aid' de camp s'ertourneot tout d'ein' traque,
R'weitieot au leong et puis diseot comm'cha:
"Sa majeste, on peut donner l'attaque
On peut qu'mincher, les Tournaisiens sont la! (ter)
La La La La La La La .....
D'aussi longtemps que l'memoire l'permette,
Chatte comm'cha, dins l' guerr, dins la paix;
D'Jerusalem, t'iest-c' qui feonc' les fernietes?
Tous les premiers, ch'est deux enfants d'Tournai
Et Godefroid, tout in suivant leu trache,
D'ein veox d'taureau criot a ses soldat:
"On peut passer, pour tertous i'a de l'plache,
On peut rintrer, les Tournaisiens sont la!"
Ein peu plus tard, quand les heomm's de tiete
F'seont'e tuer nos per's pour des brins d'tiens
Etant su l'point d'attraper ein 'doguette
I'v'neot'ntte querr' l'appui des Tournaisiens
Le roi Louis conniseot bin cell'sorte,
Car i diseot, in s'mettant su s'mat'las:
"Je r'pose en paix, ne fermez pas la porte
J'peux m'endormir, les Tournaisiens sont la!"
Tournai makes part of the Flemish cultural area (which includes some cities in Northern France, like Lille and Cambrai), but today it is a French speaking city part of Wallony and of the French Community in Belgium.
The vernacular language of Tournais and the Western Hainaut is a Picard dialect (sometimes derogatorily referred to as patois) called Tournaisien which is very closely related to other dialects spoken in Northern France (Picardie and Nord). The dialect is no longer so widely spoken but it has achieved some recognition by the French Community of Belgium, which has given it an official status as regional language along with other langues d'oïl spoken in the rest of Wallonia, like Wallon, Lorrain, Champenois and Luxemburgean.
The related dialects in France, however, do not have any official recognition, as French remains the one and only langue de la République.
It is a usual tradition in Wallonie to organize a parade with 'giants', huge (several meters high) 'puppets' held by one or several men. The most famous parade is the one taking place the 4th Sunday of August in Ath.
Anyway, since there was nothing similar in Tournai, a man called Edouard Trehoux had the idea in 1933 to launch such a parade every second WE of june!
The original giants group was made of
- Childeric, one of our merovingian king.
- Lethalde and Englebert, the two Tournaisians from the song (see previous tip). They were first to enter into Jerusalem during the Godefroid de Bouillon's cruisade (in 1099)
- Christine de Lalaing, princesse d?Espinoy, the statue on the Grand Place. She defended the city against the Spanish army in the 16th century
- Louis XIV, the French King
- A princess who represent the city of Tournai
With the time, several other giants were added to the parade...
Every Good Friday, several street (including “Rue Royale”) are busy with a huge flower market. That was already organized in the 18th century. At that time not only flowers but also ham were sold to celebrate the end of the Catholic Lent.
The monday that follows Epiphany is originally called "lundi parjure" - perjured monday. However we don't know anymore which perjury we are talking about, it could be the Magi coming back from their visit to Jesus telling Herode they din't know anything....
People used to take a day off to celebrate that day, even without being paid, that's why it is also called "lundi perdu" a lost monday!
In Tournai, we use to eat sausages, rabbit cooked with prunes (Lapin a la Tournaisienne) and mixed salad (Salade Tournaisienne).
This is a day that is usually celebrated at home but today more and more restaurants are proposing special menus...
More info and the recipes (but sorry, only in french) from http://www.wallonie.com/cuisine/parjure.htm