The Carnival at Malmedy is no less exciting than that at Binche, but perhaps less known abroad.
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Background: The Carnival at Malmedy is no less exciting than that at Binche, but perhaps less known abroad.
For old-time Malmedians, the CWARME (sometimes written QUARMAI) is still the biggest festival of the year, As at Binche, the atmosphere is created long in advance by the four "fat Thursdays" preceding the carnival. This begins on Quinquagesima Saturday, ending on Mardi Gras, the eve of Ash Wednesday.
The main legendary figure of the Malmedy carnival's is the TROUVLAI, dressed in red silk, wearing a white gold-fringed belt and a top hat with a red ribbon. In a witty speech the mayor renders him full power for three times 24 hours and he is given, with much ceremony, the wooden shovel (TROUVLAI) to banish the dying winter, whose name he bears.
The TROUVLAI replies in the most picturesque dialect and while the success of the Cwarme is toasted, the carnival opens to the notes of the old Trouvlai March, never played on any other occasion. Saturday is the day of parades; but, varying with the custom in other carnival towns, the four local carnival groups choose a different subject annually, usually related to current events. This, however, does not prevent the Malmedy carnival from remaining very attached to its particular masks. These societies appear in short intervals after each other so that, from the early afternoon to late at night, in streets surging with joyous people, there is an endless parade of costumes and multicolored fabulous floats--like a gigantic kala??? turning before the admiring crowd.
Sunday is the special day of the "Banes Courantes"--groups of all ages who wander gaily through the streets, dragging with them spectators, especially young girls, Among them are the "Haguettes" with their metal claws that frighten and seize the crowd; the "savadjes"; the "veheus" (crazy men), whose symbol is a swollen bladder; the "sotais", little imps and very comic; the "harliquins"; the "say'tis" who seek young clients whom they measure for long-length boots; and the "long-noses" who walk Indian file after a passerby imitating his every gesture until he has invited them all to a cafe for drinks.