The judgement of the children — Part I

Let us go back in time about a month, to Monday, March 8. On arriving home that afternoon, my wife Jan and I were approached by one of the neighbour girls and asked if we would be attending Carnival. What Carnival? We hadn’t heard or read a thing about it.

She explained that it involved the school children, would be lots of fun, and was taking place the next afternoon — Tuesday, March 9, which turned out to be Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the day before Lent begins. Naturally, we promised that we’d attend.

So on Tuesday afternoon, we headed up to the school (thinking that it was the site of Carnival). Before we even reached the main square, we could hear the children, chanting something that we couldn’t quite make out. And when we reached the main street, this is what we saw coming at us:

Parade No. 1

A parade of children approaches.

What in the world was that figure they were wheeling along on a grocery cart? We didn’t have a clue. But most of the children were dressed up in costume, accompanied by (we assumed) parents and teachers. They marched right past us, to the very end of the village. It looked like this:

Parade No. 2

The parade of children moves past us.

The range of costumes was impressive, and some were fairly elaborate. For example, here’s a young lad dressed as a Harlequin figure:

Parade No. 3

All dressed up, and (evidently) some place to go.

Once the parade had reached the north end of the village, the whole group headed back into the main square — and then down the little street to La Fontaine, walking right past our house and stopping in the courtyard. By this point, we still weren’t sure what was actually happening, or why. But there were definitely a lot of people milling around that strange figure in the blue suit:

Crowd at La Fontaine

Milling around in the La Fontaine courtyard.

And then, at a signal we never detected, the crowd moved out, and headed to the field behind our village’s salle des fêtes, where the entertainment began — mostly a lot of singing. Here’s one of the younger groups, being led in song:

Singers No. 1

Younger singers at the Carnival in Daglan.

Most of the children — and even some of the adults — were in costumes of one kind or another, and lot of them were variations on a police theme, ranging from regular police to FBI and NCIS. And for some reason, there were also a lot of cats. (Go figure.) Anyway, here’s another group of children who sang for our entertainment:

Singers No. 2

The Daglan version of the Singing Cops.

It was all fairly pleasant and enjoyable, but my wife and I were still pretty much in the dark: What was the point of all this? Who or what was that odd figure in the blue suit? What was going to happen next?

Eventually, once it was all over, we found out. And tomorrow, dear readers, you will too, when you read “The judgement of the children — Part II.” Be prepared.

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