“ The Battle Between Carnival and Lent ” A painting by the artist

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“ The Battle Between Carnival and Lent ” A painting by the artist
“ The Battle Between Carnival and Lent ”
A painting by the artist Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.
A Learning Unit prepared by
Barbara Le Blanc and Mireille Baulu-MacWillie
1
Introduction
The unit presented here allows students to discover ancient traditions such as
Carnival and Lent that are still practised in many communities today. Students
will be able to express their creativity, to appreciate a famous work of art and to
have fun. The unit offers activities that help students understand the cycle of
Carnival, Lent, Mid-Lent and Easter. Each student in the class becomes a
member of a group that creates short scenes to highlight parts of the painting by
Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, entitled “The Battle Between Carnival and Lent”.
The students bring to life the painting by becoming characters in short scenes
that are in the painting. The teacher can either place students in work groups or
ask students to form their own teams. The list of possible scenes is included in
this unit. If there are more than thirty students in the class, one option is to add
students to some of the scenes (for example, this can work well for the dance
scene, the Carnival parade or the Lent procession). If there are less then thirty
students in the class, one option is to do less then ten scenes, or another option
is to put less people in some of the scenes.
The teacher must give the following pages to the groups:
1) The page List of activities;
2) The page Look at the painting “The Battle Between Carnival and Lent”, by
Pieter Bruegel, the Elder;
3) The page Read the Brief History of the Carnival, Lent, Mid-Lent and
Easter Cycle;
4) The page Get to know about “Still Images”;
5) The page or the pages Prepare a scene from the painting (there are ten
scenes that have been chosen from the painting and each group gets a
different scene). Students will find the following information on this page:
a short introduction, an image of a scene, some instructions.
6) The pages List of Websites about:
the painting by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder
the professional theatre company “THEATRE MUMMERUS”
located in Krakow, Poland that used the Bruegel painting to
inspire a theatre piece.
the four communities that celebrate Mi-Carême in Canada
At the Centre de la Mi-Carême, located in Grand-Étang, Cape Breton, Nova
Scotia, there is a copy of the Pieter Bruegel, the Elder painting that permits
visitors to understand the significance and the origins of the Mi-Carême festivity.
The Mi-Carême can only be understood within the context of the cycle of
Carnival, Lent, Mid-Lent and Easter. This is one of the reasons that we have
decided to place emphasis on the Bruegel painting. He was able to clearly show
the contrasts between the spirit of Carnival and the spirit of Lent.
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Outcomes (examples)
Language Curriculum
Writing, reading and communicating orally are outcomes that are
found in most of the language programs in Canada. These aspects of
learning a language are closely linked to culture and identity. Of the
many approaches that can be used, cooperative learning permits
students to reach these outcomes. The painting “The Battle of
Carnival and Lent” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder offers a creative way
to use writing, reading and oral communication. In addition, this unit
allows students to use language and culture to discover some
traditions that are still alive today in many francophone communities
around the world.
Arts Curriculum
There is also the possibility of including the unit in an arts curriculum
(such as drama or theatre, dance, visual arts). For an example, see
the 2012 grade ten and grade eleven drama curriculum that is used in
Nova Scotia (page 89).
Acting
The actor’s language is a language of words, of movement, of
gesture, of sound, and of the creation of meaning. Learning
experiences designed to enhance skills in the use of concentration
and observation, experience and memory, movement and poise, and
creation and projection are part of the theatre experience.
http://www.ednet.ns.ca/pdfdocs/curriculum/drama10_11ss.pdf
The week called La semaine de la francophonie
The unit could also be explored during the week called La semaine
de la francophonie where the underlying outcomes are linked to
exploring, understanding and appreciating various aspects of
francophone culture.
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Social Studies Curriculum
The unit can be used a most social studies curriculum that has a
section on culture. One example is in the 2012 grade nine social
studies curriculum in Nova Scotia (see pages 41, 44).
Page 41
Teachers can have students
research and report on the following traditions and, where
appropriate, identify the cultural roots of the tradition:
Halloween
Use of confetti at weddings
Christmas trees
Valentine’s Day
mummering
Mi-Carême
Kwanza
summer vacations
wakes
La Chandeleur
This section presents many opportunities for cross-cultural activities
with fine arts teachers.
Page 44
2.4.4 identify local festivals or special occasions that take place in an
area of Atlantic Canada and assess their significance for local culture.
2.4.7 select a Francophone cultural group in Atlantic Canada and
examine ways in which its members express their identity
http://www.ednet.ns.ca/pdfdocs/curriculum/global-community.pdf
4
List of Activities
Form work groups of two, three, four or five students who will choose
or be given a scene to rehearse and present.
Look at the painting “The Battle of Carnival and Lent” by Pieter
Bruegel, the Elder.
Read the Brief History of the Cycle of Carnival, Lent, Mid-Lent and
Easter.
Look carefully and attentively at the scene chosen.
Visit the suggested Web sites.
Read the texts on the suggested Web sites.
Choose a character in the scene.
Find some costumes and accessories that can be used in preparing
the scene chosen (optional).
Read the page Get to know about Still Images
Prepare a still image of the scene chosen.
Present the still image to classmates.
Write a short script for the scene.
Become the character chosen and rehearse the scene.
Create a mask for the character chosen (where appropriate).
Present the scenes to classmates.
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Form groups of two, three, four or five students and
choose or be given a scene from the painting.
In the Bruegel painting there are many characters and scenes. The
goal is to explore some of these scenes.
Organize the class so that groups of students choose or are given
one of the scenes on the following list. Each group will work on a
different scene.
1) The Dancers (five people)
2) The twins Orson and Valentine (two people)
3) The fishmongers (two or three people)
4) The dice players (two people)
5) The nobleman and the beggars (three people)
6) The pancake makers (two people instead of only one who
appears in the painting)
7) The spinning top players (two to three people)
8) The Carnival Parade (four or five people)
9) The Lent Procession (four or five people)
10) The Symbolic Battle Between Carnival and Lent (two people)
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Look at the painting “The Battle of Carnival and Lent”
by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.
Look carefully and attentively at the Bruegel painting.
It is important to remember that in the 16th century, when Pieter
Bruegel, the Elder painted his painting that most people were
illiterate. Therefore, often paintings served an educational purpose.
The Pieter Bruegel painting, among other things, depicts the liturgical
calendar by representing the joys of Carnival and the austerity of
Lent. He places his characters in a village square where Carnival and
Lent participate in a symbolic battle.
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Read the Brief History of the
Cycle of Carnival, Lent, Mid-Lent and Easter
The cycle of Carnival, Lent, Mid-Lent and Easter goes back to the
Middle Ages in Europe. The first French-speaking colonists to settle
in North America brought with them the traditions of celebrating
Carnival and Mid-Lent. Carnival is a joyful period of frolicking that
contrasts with the Lenten period of penance and fasting. Lent lasts
forty days. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends just before the
celebration of Easter. Mid-Lent (called Mi-Carême in French) is
celebrated in the middle of Lent. It is a mini Carnival that breaks the
austerity of Lent. Easter symbolizes the passion, crucifixion and
resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The date of Easter changes every year. As a result the dates of
Carnival, Mid-Lent and Lent change also. For Christians, Easter
takes place on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows March
21st. However, the dates for Orthodox Christians and the Jewish
Passover (Pessa’h) are different.
According to many scholars, the word Carnival comes from Medieval
Latin carne levare that means “take away meat”. Traditionally during
Lent, people did not eat meat. The duration of Carnival activities
tends to vary from one country to another. Although today many
communities still celebrate Carnival, people seem to practise Lent
with much less rigid and severe forms of penance and fasting. The
majority of people emphasise the fun of turning the world upside
down in merry making and revelry.
Masks and costumes play a central role in the Carnival and Mid-Lent
(Mi-Carême) merry-making. These festivities have similar
components: food, music, song and dance. There are many traditions
linked to the Mid-Lent (Mi-Carême) festivities. The most common
tradition is called “running the mi-carême”. In groups, masked and
costumes persons go from house to house to see if their neighbours
can guess who is hidden behind their disguises. Today, Mi-Carême is
celebrated in four Canadian communities : the Acadian region of
Chéticamp, Saint-Joseph-du-Moine and Magré on Cape Breton
Island, Nova Scotia, as well as the three regions of Isle aux Grues,
Fatima on the Madeleine Islands and Natasquan, all in Quebec.
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Get to know about “Still Images”
One of the activities of the unit is to create a “still image”. The
following is the definition of the term “still image”:
“Groups devise an image using their own bodies to crystallize a
moment, idea or theme.” (Neelands & Goode: 2000, 25)
When a group presents the still image, all of the other students
observe the still image and answer the following questions:
What is happening in the still image?
Who are the people in the still image?
What feelings and emotions are people expressing in the still image?
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Prepare the scene of the dancers (five people)
Five people are dancing in the painting. Song-dances (called les
rondes in French) are one of the oldest forms of dancing.
Look attentively at the group of dancers.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Create a song-dance. To do this, dancers move to the left while
singing the first line of a song. Then, they move to the right while
singing the second line of a song. Depending on the words of the
song, there may be other moves that dancers perform. One can
choose a French song and do the above moves or one can create a
totally new song-dance. One can also search on the following Web
site to find examples of song dances:
http://www.momes.net/jeux/per/ronde.html
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Prepare the scene of the tale of Orson and Valentine
(two people)
In front of the brown building on the left, one can see characters who
are performing the tale of Orson and Valentine, who are twins that
were born in the forest and who were separated at birth. Orson was
reared by a bear and he became savage-like. He is located on the left
side of the painting, wearing a bluish-green outfit that makes one
think of animal fur. Valentine was raised by a king and he became a
knight. He is dressed in bright yellow and has a sword in his hand. He
is located to the right of his twin brother.
Look attentively at the scene of Orson and Valentine
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
In the painting, Orson and Valentine meet for the first time and they
discover that they are twins. Write a short dialogue between the two
characters. Imagine what it would be like to meet your twin for the
first time.
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Prepare the scene of the fishmongers (two or three people)
On all of the continents, there are fish markets. Fishmongers often
sell their merchandise by yelling to the passers-by. Fish rather than
meat was traditionally eaten during Lent.
Look attentively at the fishmonger scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Create a situation within which the fishmongers try to sell their
merchandise.
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Prepare the dice players scene (two people)
Playing dice dates to ancient times. These games have always been
quite popular. A wide variety of games exist that use dice.
Look attentively at the scene of the dice players.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Play a dice game that needs two players. Place the dice either on a
table or on the ground. Each player takes a turn throwing the dice
until one of the players gets the same number on the two dice. When
this happens, that player wins. Then the game begins again. One can
also create a game.
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Prepare the nobleman and beggars scene (three people)
Beggars have always been present in streets and on public squares.
They are also sometimes in front of religious buildings like churches.
They usually ask passers-by to give them money. Being charitable is
a virtue that is practised during Lent. The nobleman in the scene is
wearing stockings, a tunic, a decorated cloak and a felt hat. The
beggars are wearing old raggedy clothing.
Look attentively at the nobleman and the beggars in the scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Write a short dialogue between the nobleman and the beggars.
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Prepare a pancake makers scene
(two people instead of one as appears in the scene)
Carnival ends with Fat Tuesday. On that day there is a tradition of
making and eating pancakes to get rid of eggs and butter that are not
used during Lent.
Look attentively at the pancake maker scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Bring the ingredients and necessary equipment to make pancakes.
Prepare a few sentences that you can say when you offer pancakes
to your classmates. Here is one example:
1)
Fat Tuesday
Fat Tuesday, don’t go
I’ll make pancakes
I’ll make pancakes
Fat Tuesday don’t go
I’ll make pancakes
I’ll make pancakes
I‘ll make pancakes
And, you’ll get some.
15
Prepare the spinning top scene (two or three people)
In general, people like to spin tops. They can make it whirl, sway and
swing around and around. Often it seems to be like a helicopter and
makes a ZZZZZzzzz sound.
Look attentively at the spinning top players in the scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Create a situation in which two or three people are spinning tops.
Here is how to do it:
Spin the top.
It turns on itself.
It turns and turns.
It stops.
Spin the top again.
The top begins to spin again.
One can use a real spinning top or another object that can spin. One
can also just simply pretend to do the action.
16
Prepare the Carnival Parade scene (three or four people)
The Carnival parade is made up of colourful masked people and
musicians. The ground is covered in eggshells, bones and cards. The
rommelpot (a type of friction drum) player is playing his musical
instrument. He seems to be singing along as he plays the rommelpot.
Look attentively at the characters in the Carnival parade scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Recreate a Carnival parade.
17
Prepare the Lent procession scene (four or five people)
Adults and children are following the character that symbolizes Lent.
Contrary to the Carnival parade, none of the characters in this scene
are wearing a mask. One can see foods that represent Lent: fish,
unleavened bread, onions and honey.
Look attentively at the Lent procession scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Recreate the Lent procession.
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Prepare the scene
of the symbolic Battle between Carnival and Lent
To create the battle between Carnival and Lent, it is important to
understand what these characters represent. Read the descriptions
of the two characters before preparing the symbolic battle.
The character symbolizing Carnival
The character called Carnival is big and fat and is sitting on a barrel,
with one foot in a pot and a large butcher’s knife on his belt. He is
holding a pig’s head on a skewer. Carnival is wearing brightly
coloured clothing. The scene is in total contrast to the Lent
procession.
19
Prepare the scene
of the symbolic Battle between Carnival and Lent
The character symbolizing Lent
The character symbolizing Lent is tall and skinny with grey sunken
cheeks because of all the fasting and penance. Lent wears sombre
coloured clothing and has a honeycomb for a hat, with bees buzzing
about its head. Lent has a lance with two fish. Next to the chair there
are traditional Lenten foods: clams, pretzels, dry biscuits, unleavened
bread and a basket full of raisins.
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Prepare the scene
of the symbolic Battle between Carnival and Lent
Now, with some knowledge about the two principle characters of the
painting, one can better understand why a symbolic fight between
them represents the joyful festive spirit of Carnival and the more
severe sombre spirit of Lent.
Look attentively at the battle scene.
Find some clothing and accessories for the scene.
Prepare a still image and present it to classmates.
Create a stylized (slow motion) battle between Carnival and Lent.
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List of Websites
Visit the following Web site to see the painting by Pieter Bruegel, the
Elder.
http://www.abcgallery.com/B/Bruegel, dit l’Ancien/Bruegel, dit
l’Ancien1.html
To enter into the painting and understand some of the elements in it,
visit the following Web site:
http://magali.vacherot.free.fr/Bruegel, dit l’Ancien/
To see details of the painting see the following Web site:
http://www.artliste.com/pierre-Bruegel, dit l’Ancien/combat-entrecarnaval-careme-1786.html
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Visit the following sites to see photos of the theatre troupe THEATRE
MUMMERUS located in Krakow, Poland. This theatre company
created a play inspired by Bruegel’s painting “The Battle Between
Carnival and Lent”:
http://www.mumerus.net/index.php?zone=performances&showpage=
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3780235491/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3777836182/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3781046870/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3780233155/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3781045080/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3777033157/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3777033561/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3777837244/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3777835776/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3777304930/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3776497741/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvic/3776099984/in/photostream/
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Here are some Websites that give information about the Mi-Carême
festivity in Canadian communities:
The Acadian region of Chéticamp, Saint-Joseph-du-Moine and Magré
(Nova Scotia):
http://micareme.ca/fr/index.php
The region of Ile aux Grues (Québec)
http://isle-aux-grues.com/?s=mi-careme
The Acadian region of Fatima on the Madeleine Islands (Québec)
http://www.tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/magdalenislands/evenements-29-la-mi-careme-dans-le-village-de-fatima.cfm
The Acadian region of Natashquan (Québec)
http://www.copactenatashquan.net/main.php?sid=m&mid=55&lng=2
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Short Biography about the Creators of this Learning Unit
Ethnologist Dr. Barbara Le Blanc teaches for the Department of Education at Université
Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia. She has lived and worked in Europe and North America in
a variety of fields, more specifically in theatre, teaching and cultural tourism. Her
research has focused on topics linked to educational tourism, the use of drama and
theatre in learning, and Acadian history and culture. She has written a number of articles
on Acadian culture and a children's book, Acadie en fête published by the BBC and
Longman Publications in Great Britain. Her book Postcards From Acadie: Grand-Pré,
Evangeline and the Acadian Identity, examines the role of an historic site in the
construction of a sense of Acadian group identity and belonging. Her publication All Join
Hands: A Guide to Teach Traditional Acadian Dances in School is a resource consisting
of a manual, a music CD and a DVD to help learn examples of Acadian dances that
have been done over the past 400 years. Barbara Le Blanc is past president of the
Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Ecosse (FANE) and the Folklore Studies
Association of Canada.
Mireille Baulu-MacWillie obtained her Ph.D. from the Université de Montréal and
dedicated her forty-five-year career to the field of education. In her first twenty-five years,
she taught students at all academic levels: primary school, high school, community
college and university. She also held the administrative positions of principal in a public
school and chair of a university department. She spent the last twenty years of her
career at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia as a professor of education preparing
students for the teaching profession. These experiences have allowed her to become
very familiar with the conditions that foster healthy and successful learning. She has
written many scholarly articles and co-authored two books, one of which entitled
Apprendre…c’est un beau jeu (1990) is about the education of young children. She also
wrote the book Millions of Souls which narrates the story of Philip Riteman, a survivor of
the Holocaust. Now retired, she uses all the knowledge that she has accumulated over
the years to help educators foster the desire to explore the best teaching practices and
nurture the pleasure to learn.
Both authors have collaborated on numerous articles, books and projects, including the
chapter “La culture populaire en Acadie” in the book Les enquêtes d’Octave, Collection
Franç’Arts (Les éditions Beauchemin et la Fondation d’éducation des provinces
atlantiques, 2003), the book Découvrir la langue par la magie des contes (Chenelière
Éducation, 2007) and the learning unit Millions of Souls (Flanker Press, 2010).
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