The Cwarmê in Malmedy - East Belgium Go to content

The Cwarmê in Malmedy

Each year, a centuries-old tradition is revived at the Malmedy Carnival during the three days of revelling before Ash Wednesday. On the four “Fat Thursdays” beforehand (petites haguètes) the masked people make their way from pub to pub and poke fun at the guests, but in a nice and friendly manner (known as “lawer” in Walloon).

Text: Photo‘s:


Two to three months before carnival, the musical societies start rehearsals to practise the new carnival songs which are required to fit in with the topic of that particular year. Seamstresses are busy cutting out and sewing the costumes, while the male choral societies prepare the “role plays” (satirical street theatre) for the Monday.

The “Grosse Police” open the festivities on Carnival Saturday and the mayor hands over his power to the "Trouv'lê". The large procession on Sunday is the highlight of the street carnival with 1,500 people wearing the typical masks and costumes of the Walloon Carnival. The spectators are also regularly included in the action.

The “role day” on Monday is actually the preserve of the residents of Malmedy, as only “insiders” understand the funny jokes about the town dwellers. It all comes to an end on Fat Tuesday (Pancake Day) when the “haguète” – the symbolic figure of Malmedy Carnival – is burned down.

“Walloon” is spoken at all of the events. Even if you don’t understand this language, it doesn’t stop you from eagerly joining in the fun. Welcome to "Cwarmê d'Mâm'dî".


Some common carnival figures associated with CWARMÊ in Malmedy:

Lu Trouv’lê

He represents the seat of power for the town during the 4 days of the “CWARMÊ.”

His clothes are red (symbolising fire) and he wears a top hat especially for the handover ceremony; he receives the "panûle" (brewers' grain shovel) from the hands of the mayor at an official reception on Saturday afternoon.


Lu Grosse Police

The large police force announces the opening of the Cwarmê and the rules in force.

In earlier times, the drummers of the guard drummed in the CWARMÊ and the police order. In 1920, for the first time, the caricature emerged that is called – in the local language – “La Grosse Police” (The Fat Police). The beginning of the festive period was announced with a bell – “Le clabot” The town crier used the bell right up into the 1950s.


Lu Haguète

The Haguète’s costume is made of velvet and decorated with satin and gold edgings. The mask has a hanging fringe with more fringes hanging from the sleeves and pants. Large multi-colored ostrich feathers decorate the hat.

The “Haguète” is armed with a so-called “hape-tchâr” (flesh-snatcher – a pair of wooden articulated tongs) that is used to grab the arms and legs of the onlookers and not let them go until they kneel and say they’re sorry in Walloon: “Pardon, Haguète, à l’cawe du ramon, dju nu l’f’rès jamês pus!“ (Forgive me, Haguète, I swear on the broomstick, I will never do it again!).


Lu Sotê

The “Sotê” is a legendary dwarf that lived once in the grottos of Bévercé, close to Malmedy. In return for some food the dwarves carried out various services for the population.

During the festivities, the “Sotê” amble through the streets and tease the spectators with their long arms. This age-old figure was first mentioned in documents dating back to the middle of the 18th Century.


Lu Pièrot

The “Pièrot” in the Malmedy Cwarmê has always been dressed in a large white collar cloth that is decorated with large black buttons. He wears a large, white pointed hat, decorated also with the same kind of buttons.

The “Pièrot” shares out oranges and nuts, which are carried on a cart. When his pockets are empty, he falls down onto the ground. The children then drag him to the cart where the goods are stored and sing: “Pove Pièrot qui n’a pus dès djèyes!” (Poor Pièrot has no more nuts!)


Lu Long-Né

The ‘long noses’ wear long, pointed pixie hats, masks with very long noses, blue smocks, red neckerchiefs and white pants. A clay pipe hangs out of the corner of their mouths. They are absolutely unrecognizable behind their masks.

The ‘long noses’ are ‘subversive’ groups of crazy revelers who try to bring a mad atmosphere onto the streets of the town. They move around in groups of six or seven in Indian file and look for a victim, whom they then imitate for a long time until this person is made nervous and has to pay them a round of drinks.


Lu Boldjî

The “Boldjî” (baker) is dressed completely in white with a rigid baker’s cap and he is made up to have a fat belly and thick cheeks. Hard salt pretzels are stitched onto his clothes.

His ‘weapon’ is an enormous long paddle (normally used to slide bread out of the oven), with which he paws the ladies’ rears as if they were warm, round loaves of bread from the baking-oven (von'là onk k' èst bin cût, on bin lèvé !)


More information

You might also be interested in