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Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday begins with dressing up. This is a family moment, when the Gille dons his traditional costume.

Equipped with his 'ramon' for the dance, the first Gille will leave home at dawn accompanied by a drummer and, sometimes, a 'joueur de caisse'. Followed by friends and parents, he will head to a specific neighborhood to pick up the other Gilles from his society. Most of the time, arrival at a Gille's home is accompanied by a tune on the fife or clarinet.

The societies are finally all together by around 7:00am, and they begin the festivities with oysters and Champagne.

From 8:30am, the Gilles, Paysans, Marins, Pierrots and Arlequins meet up at the Grand-Place. The Gilles and Paysans (peasants) wear wax masks. They are welcomed by the local authorities at the town hall, where they receive their jubilee medals. Around noon, all participants head back to their homes for lunch.

The procession starts from the intersections of Battignies square at 3:00pm. This crosses the Avenue Charles Delièges to reach the Grand-Place, where a 'rondeau' is formed. During the procession, the participants offer their oranges and the Gille wears his ostrich feather hat. The societies are accompanied by drums and music.

At around 8:00pm, the night procession follows the same path as the afternoon procession but with the added glimmer of sparklers. The Gille's basket is empty and he has removed his hat.

At 9:00pm, the Grand-Place is illuminated by fireworks to end the carnival with a 'plus oultre' (Charles V's motto, meaning 'always further'). The societies continue to dance the night away to the rhythm of the drums but everyone has to be home before dawn breaks.

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