Culture  With Love from Belgium
20/12/201505:00 TV5MONDE
 



As in some other countries like Switzerland, Christmas celebrations in Belgium begin on December 6th – date of the Saint-Nicholas Feast (Sinterklaas in Dutch and Saint-Nicolas in French). They are held until New Year. Saint Nicholas has a prestigious place in Christmas celebrations in Belgium as the patron saint of children and of other corporations.  

 


Traditions are slightly different depending on the region of the country. In the Northern part or Dutch speaking part, Saint-Nicholas is represented on a white horse and comes from Spain. Whereas in the francophone part or Southern part, he is travelling on a magic donkey along with the “Pere Fouettard”, also called Hanscrouf.



The Saint Nicholas

On the night of December 5th till 6th, the tradition is for kids to leave their slippers near the fireplace with some carrots for the donkey, in exchange of which they will receive some candies (including chocolates and speculoos of course).


 


The older ones who are old enough to be in university traditionally parade in the streets, holding a chope (glass for beer) and singing to collect money. This is called the “Guindaille”. Those who don’t agree on giving them money are nicely thanked with a spray of flour and a few raw eggs



Christmas markets

 


 
Christmas markets are very popular in Belgium, as it is generally the case in this part of Europe. These markets are generously decorated and offer a wide range of Belgium Christmas yummy specialties: such as pastries, vin chaud (warm wine with spices).

 

 

village de noel (Christmas village) is also usually set in every Christmas market. In Wallonia or Southern region; in Namur; Charleroi; Anvers; Bruges or Liège; there are the oldest and biggest markets in Belgium… Many cities organize Christmas related events such as public tales with light shows, open air ice-skating...

 


There is also a special festival is held in Liège. It is called the Concours du Roi du Pâté Gaumais. This is a competition about making the best meat pie, and it is very popular...

 

Source: lucnix.be
 


Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, there is a huge gathering in Brussels on the Grand-Place, where thousands of people light candles at midnight sharp right after a public countdown! This is undoubtedly one of the most magic celebrations!


 
Source: voyageetculture.blogspot.hk



Typical food

On Christmas Day, turkey or goose are traditionally served but also blood sausage... or even a variation of the latter: 
the tripes à l'djotte (blood sausage with a green cabbage base) from the city of Nivelles. 


 

Source: rtbf.be
 

Cougnous and cougnoles are a pastry made in the shape of the Infant Jesus. 
Boukètes, that are buckwheat crepes with sultanas or apples. 


 

Speculoos, are gingerbread in a Saint-Nicholas shape 
Chocolate: Belgium holds 2000 chocolate confectionary shops for 500 chocolate confectioners (Neuhaus, Leonidas, Godiva, Corné, Daskalidès, Marcolini, Mary ...)
Les baisers de Malmédy (the kisses of Malmédy): 2 meringues filled with butter cream of ice-cream…

 



 
Last but not least, beers are definitely put on the Christmas table, as Belgium is irrefutably the country of beer.  

Overall, Belgium is a beautiful  place to celebrate Christmas! We wish you and all our friends from Belgium a Merry Christmas! Here is how to say it in the 3 different languages spoken in Belgium 

 
French: Joyeux Noel!
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest!
German: Froehliche Weihnachten!


 



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