Culture and traditions Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Culture and traditions Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Clearance sales

S & rsquonégreniers, it's not just the sausages from the French fries stands that are roasted! The prices of the items sold there also go to the spit, and we often find everything and especially anything for ridiculous prices.

Tradition has it that the phenomenon was born in the XNUMXth century, when servants from Lille were given permission for one night in the year to sell old clothes and other used items from their masters. At the time, this clearance sale was called the “free fair”, because neither the State nor the municipality imposed the receipt or the right of place.

The clearance sales then grew over the centuries. Today, that of Lille has a surprising success. Sociologists speak of the “need to get together”, in a world where social relations increasingly pass through machines and screens.
Others argue that the harsh living conditions of the past made people not throw anything away and put aside, just in case.

Result, the recycling is all the rage in the region and collectors are legion. All kinds of objects, old and newer, are therefore regularly displayed to be sold on the sidewalks of cities and towns. We discuss, we negotiate, we drink, we eat, in a festive and warm atmosphere, along kilometers of stalls, in the middle of amateur and professional exhibitors, and we hurry, in a good-natured scramble, in the hope of unearthing the deals of the century, even if, unfortunately, they are done more more rare ...

See the biggest one, the LiIlle clearance sale.


The estaminets hidden from all trade unionists, from all those who thought revolution.

Estaminet, place of Mêpas-de-Calais what the pub is to Ireland.

A certain revival

The “ones in Flanders (10 Flemish estaminets obtained a label in 2017), it is especially in town that they have been redesigned, the confinemèon universes éLille and mguerre, they are not yet the next one. So, go quickly!

  • See the report Flanders: in the land of taverns


They appeared during the import of the tradition of making giants worn in wicker that were already found in Spain.

Those are cardboard characters painted in bright colors dominated by fiery red and lighted yellows most often, and armed with a wicker structure. In the Middle Ages, they were called "towers". It's true that they do up to 7 m high.
Sometimes, they are called anonymously Reuze ("giant" in Flemish) as in Dunkirk or Cassel, or Gayant ("giant" in Picard) in Douai, or Jehan, old form of the first name Jean. But most of the time, they have names linked by a bit of sentiment to the city.
And curiously, always profane names, unlike near Belgium where the surnames of giants are often taken from the Bible. These are amplified covers of legendary or historical heroes of the city. Or more often names taken from the no man's land foggy of oral memory, where history and legend meet. Unlike many mannequins, the giants are not burned but are subject to a deep popular reverence.
If the belfry symbolizes the power of the municipalities, the giant indeed represents the soul of the people, joyful, turbulent, impertinent but also powerful in its demonstrations of force.

He is a native fisherman, a miner, a lacemaker, a talented gouailleur, a steelworker ...

  • See the article on the giants of the North

Traditional festivals


These medieval festivals are believed to be the origin of today's northern carnivals. Some clues: we always throw something in the disguised crowd ; we always wear something in procession. Today, in the cities of the North, the carnival has become essential.

To make yourself an idea Red dressed, no repression; the gendarme here is just another name for the saurian herring). And when, in the evening, the carnival people sing the hymn to Jean Bart, we have goose bumps. It is the vox populi canonization of the most famous Dunkirk.
You have to go through this at least once in your life!

And everywhere in the North, in these festive times, painted in bright colors dominated by fiery red and lighted yellows, and armed with a wicker structure.


The ducasse, contraction of the word dedication (we dedicate this day to the saint of the parish), it is patronal feast of the town or district. The Ducasse du Nord is the Flemish fair, it is Breton pardon. It's an accordion tune between the fairground huts. It's the popular ball and the bachelorette party.

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