In Brielle we have a rather unique tradition on this day. It doesn't happen anywhere else. Research shows that it is a century old tradition. Possibly as a courting tradition between young boys and girls. At some point end 1800s and early 1900s the tradition was forbidden because there was more rioting than it was fun. We are trying to keep up this tradition in an age when people spend less time on fun things like this. The Brielle Bell Ringers Guild (of which I am a member) makes a point of participating every year.
At 19 hrs the Masquerade starts. Groups of people gather in the town center. They are masked and act out their comments and criticism on local or national issues. So you might see comments on dirt in the streets, the way things go in Brielle, things about local politicians and other stuff. The comments on the boards usually rhyme or are word jokes.
As I said: we do this masked and without words but with plenty of written texts, lots of noise and funny costumes.
After an hour of parading around, everyone troups off to a pub. The best groups get a prize. The jury consists of various people from the community.
It always attracts a lot of locals and is great fun to watch!
Then it's off to home where the St. Nicholas festivities wait with the family and friends.
2005- we dressed up as black birds to make our criticism known to the town council that it spent 15.000 euro on getting noisy birds out of a tree. The noise was annoying to someone who lived there and complained. We had 2nd prize.
2006 - we repeated our black birds act because after the 15.000 euro was spent, the noisy birds simply returned to the same tree the next season! We had 1st prize
2007 - we dressed up as trees to critisize the fact that the town council alderman had had more trees sawn down than he actually had permission for. One of us took the dog to walk along. The dog was wearing a tshirt saying: I need to pee! Where's a tree? 1st prize again!
For 2008 we already have a plan. But that's a secret until it happens!
The Brielle Bell Ringers Guild is a very active club. They ring the bells in the St. Catharijne church, maintain, give information and organise activities.
These bells are simply rung. They cannot do change ringing such as is common in the UK. Nevertheless, it's a mighty sound!
Especially since 3 new bells were added in 2010. Two of them can be rung by hand. So the bell ringers now have 5 bells to ring instead of 3. The bells range from 350-4350 kg in weight and over 500 years in age.
A print of Brielle from 1622 when Brielle was still a sea port. Old prints show that Brielle didn't change considerably over the centuries. The outlines then are nearly the same as today. A big difference is that the sea is not as close anymore as it was in the Middle Ages. That's when Brielle, an important sea harbour, lost most of its significance as a trade and marine port.
Another difference is that the old fortified town is surrounded by new built neighbourhoods.