- Folklore and Tradition
Laetare officially marks Lent’s half-way point, and the town of Stavelot celebrates it in a unique fashion. Namely with sinister Pinocchio-like ‘Blancs Moussis’ in full costume, stuffing confetti down women’s tops, dangling dried herrings in people’s hair and beating bystanders with dried pork bladders.
The current Stavelot Laetare festival traces its origins back to 1502 when local monks were controversially forbidden from joining the celebrations by their Prince-Abbot. The townsfolk responded by dressing up in monkish robes themselves - complete with masks and fake noses to disguise their identities - and partying twice as hard.
Today the eerie Blancs Moussis are still causing mayhem here every Laetare - which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Look out for the irreverent posters they plaster all over town before the confetti-drenched parade itself.
Over 2,200 volunteers dress up for the occasion, gathering a crowd of 35,000 spectators every year.
The festivities begin on Saturday evening with a procession full humour and lights and a carnival ball at the abbey.
The big Sunday procession begins at 2 pm with all the magic of the show. At the end of the procession, Rondeau des Blancs Moussis (Place Saint-Remacle) and confetti. Podiums at the abbey with fanfares, harmonies and bands. At 9 pm: big fireworks followed by the "Nuit blanche des Blancs Moussis" in the cellars of the abbey.
On Monday afternoon, music and folklore.