Just before the first spring flowers pop out of the snow and before Lent, the 40-day fasting period before Easter, something colorful and outrageous happens in villages and towns across Belgium. It’s carnival time and people come together to celebrate in excess, just as later on they used to congregate to celebrate in fasting and penance.

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Night flight

This Belgian village counts just a handful of houses, meandering across the hills. In front of the church, there’s a hand-written sign: “big fire on Saturday”. That’s about all the detail. Here, everybody knows everybody. And everybody knows where everything happens.

It’s the communal bonfire at the end of the carnival. The burning of winter in effigy.

As it gets darker, people start gathering on a hill outside the village. Some of them costumed. Kids are running around, high with excitation and fatigue. It’s freezing.

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