It is tradition that our kids school takes a field trip to the Nationaal Carnavals Museum just before the start of Carnival. Oeteldonk runs in the blood of many people here in Brabant so naturally it’s a tradition celebrated in the schools here in s’-Hertogenbosch. In fact, each year there is an school emblem competition [a patch worn on boerenkiels or jackets].. While neither of my kids won, they both received an honorable mention for their badges. I thought I took photos of their final drawings but I cannot seem to find them. Anyway I did find this one on my photo so you can get an idea of M’s.
When the class mother asked if anyone could help chaperone the kids, I immediately volunteered. It’s good for my oefenen and I somewhat enjoy the Carnival celebrations of my “adopted city” and have not yet been to this museum so I signed up! Our kids do not have boerenkiels or jackets (yet) but I wrapped Maebh in the traditional red white and yellow Oeteldonk colors scarf complete with a frog on her shoulder (Soren’s scarf from last year) and sent her off to school.
The Oeteldonks Gemintemuzejum is located in an idyllic spot in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, on the site of the former gatehouse of the medieval Sisters of Orthenklooster and located on the Binnendieze.
Essentially off the Hinthamstraat and down an alley way. I was totally immersed in the rich history of the national, international and Oeteldonk carnival. The “muzejum” has a permanent collection with all kinds of masks, clothing, promotional material, weapons, shields and other valuable and important objects from the history of carnival and Oeteldonk. Thematic exhibitions are also organized in the summer months. We had a tour with a very informative & passionate woman who told us EVERYTHING about the history and details of the carnival in her own unique way geared towards children. And truthfully she was a lot more patient than I could be with children – especially 10 year old boys who cannot stand still and focus 🙂 I learned so much about carnival in, but also outside of Oeteldonk – far beyond the borders. I highly recommend a visit to this museum if you are ever in Den Bosch and curious about Carnival.
If you are not 100% sure what the fus is about Oeteldonk or why Carival is so big here in Den Bosch. First the name Oeteldonk stems from Den Bosch’ geological condition and history (donk = sandy hill; oetel is agreed to allude to frog): a sandy place found in a swampy area outside the town. The vernacular language of Den Bosch is spoken, best understood if it’s not written, but spoken out loud. Cities change their names for the period: Den Bosch becomes Oeteldonk; Bergen op Zoom Krabbegat and Tilburg Kruikenstad.
Secondly, check out this blog post “How to make sense of Carnival” done by Cora of Free Den Bosch Tours – she touches on the FAQs quiet well. Forget the cow and bunny suits filling up with cans of beer in the AH on Vughterstraat – do that elsewhere – preferably far away say in Maastricht but not Den Bosch… you won’t fit in here. 🙂 And it if you haven’t done one of Cora’s Free Den Bosch Tours – do it!
Beyond the name there is the Prince and the Jr. Price (and his court), and parades with amazing floats, a kids parade, the clothing, brass bands and carnival songs. It’s just something you need to experience. I will add that some people absolutely HATE it and leave town for the period. Being from abroad, I neither love it or hate it but I am in the middle – I certainly don’t buy a one way ticket out of town nor do I go out each until 4 am.
Many store fronts decorate inside and of course. In fact, last year the kids did artwork at school and they are put in the store windows around the city and there is a competition between schools. We are then given a map and the kids and I walked around and found their specific pieces on display. Oh and each day I get to see hundreds of people come by my house going into the city on the bikes dressed in the decorated jackets.
In case you are inspired to visit, all the details for 2020 Carnival here in Den Bosch including the parade route, etc can be found by clicking that link.