Luilak

(redirected from Lazybones Day)

Luilak (Lazybones Day)

Type of Holiday: Folkloric
Date of Observation: Between May 9 and June 12; Saturday before Pentecost
Where Celebrated: Netherlands
Symbols and Customs: Branches, Wagons
Related Holidays: Pentecost

ORIGINS

Luilak or Lazybones Day is a youth festival celebrated in Zaandam, Haarlem, Amsterdam, and other towns in the western Netherlands. The holiday begins at four o'clock in the morning on the Saturday before PENTECOST, when groups of young people awaken their neighbors by whistling, banging on pots and pans, and ringing doorbells. Any boy or girl who refuses to get up and join in the noisemaking is referred to as Luilak or "Lazybones" throughout the coming year. The Lazybones must also treat their companions to candy or cakes, and they are the butt of all sorts of jokes and teasing.

According to legend, the holiday originated in 1672 when a watchman named Piet Lak fell asleep while French invaders entered the country. He was known thereafter as Luie-Lak, or "Lazy Lak." In many parts of the country, Luilakbollen or "Lazybones Cakes," traditionally baked in the shape of fat double rolls and served hot with syrup, are specialties of the season.

SYMBOLS AND CUSTOMS

Branches

In some parts of the Netherlands, boys and girls get up early on the Saturday before Whitsunday (PENTECOST) and gather green branches from the woods. Luilak

Then they dip the branches in water and fasten them over the doors of late-sleepers in such a way that, when the door is opened, the branches fall on the unsuspecting "Lazybones" and give them a drenching. Then the children, who are usually lurking nearby, chase the Lazybones and beat them with the branches.

The custom of beating each other with branches as a way of welcoming spring dates back to very ancient times, when it was probably intended as a purification rite.

Wagons

Children often celebrate Luilak by making little wagons shaped like boots and decorated with branches and thistles, known as luilakken. Pulling the wagons over the cobblestone streets often generates enough friction to set the wheels smoking. The children then either watch their wagons go up in flames or douse them in the nearest canal.

Although the exact origin of the smoking wagons is not known, they are believed to be connected to an ancient spring fertility ceremony.

FURTHER READING

Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. Ickis, Marguerite. The Book of Festivals and Holidays the World Over. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1970. MacDonald, Margaret R., ed. The Folklore of World Holidays. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992. Spicer, Dorothy Gladys. Festivals of Western Europe. 1958. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1993. Spicer, Dorothy Gladys. The Book of Festivals. 1937. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990.

WEB SITE

Catholic Culture www.catholicculture.org/lit/recipes/view.cfm?id=1171

Luilak

Between May 9 and June 12; Saturday before Pentecost
Luilak, or Lazybones Day, is a youth festival celebrated in Zaandam, Haarlem, Amsterdam, and other towns in the western Netherlands. The celebration begins at four o'clock in the morning on the Saturday before Pentecost, when groups of young people awaken their neighbors by whistling, banging on pots and pans, and ringing doorbells. Any boys or girls who refuse to get up and join the noisemaking are referred to as Luilak, or "Lazybones," a name that is said to have originated in 1672 when a watchman named Piet Lak fell asleep while French invaders entered the country. Thereafter he was referred to as Luie-Lak, "Lazy Lak." In many parts of the country Luilakbollen, or "Lazybones Cakes," traditionally baked in the shape of fat double rolls and served with syrup, are a specialty of the season.
Children celebrate Luilak by making little wagons, often shaped like boots and decorated with branches and thistles, known as luilakken. Pulling the wagons over the cobblestone streets can generate enough friction to set the wheels smoking. The children then either watch while their luilakken go up in flames or else dump them in the canals.
In Haarlem, Luilak marks the opening of the celebrated Whitsun flower market in the Grote Markt at midnight ( see Merchants' Flower Market).
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 243
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 66
FestWestEur-1958, p. 134
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 341