Between March 8 and April 11; fourth Sunday in Lent
This break from the strictness of Lent has traditionally been observed in France, Belgium, and various islands of the French West Indies—including Guadeloupe, St. BarthÉlemy, and Martinique. In Paris, it is customarily celebrated with the FÉte des Blanchisseuses, or laundresses, who choose a queen from each of the various metropolitan districts. The district queens and the queen of queens chosen by them ride through the streets on a float, followed by their costumed courtiers and ladies-in-waiting. Then there is a colorful ball for the washerwomen that night.
In Belgium, Mid-Lent or Half-Vasten is the day when someone dresses up as the Count of Mid-Lent and distributes gifts to children.
French Government Tourist Office
444 Madison Ave., 16th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
800-391-4909 or 212-838-7800; fax: 212-838-7855
BkFest-1937, pp. 40, 121
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 52
FestWestEur-1958, p. 35