Belgium officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state located in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union.
Christmas Celebrations in Belgium :
Just like in other parts of Europe, Belgium also celebrates Christmas in a grand manner.
In Belgium there are two Santa Claus figures. These are St. Niklaas and Pere Noel.
In Belgium, the traditional Christmas breakfast includes freshly baked crusty rolls with butter & cold meats and/or jam, followed by pastries called “koffiekoek(en)” (meaning coffee cake(s) as they are normal eaten with a cup of coffee!). In Walloon districts a special sweet bread called ‘cougnou’ or ‘cougnolle’ made in a shape that is supposed to be like baby Jesus is eaten for Christmas breakfast. Some families have Advent Crowns made from fir or leylandii greenery.
On Christmas Eve (‘Kerstavond’ in Flemish and ‘le réveillion de Noël’ in Walloon), a special meal is eaten by most families. It starts with a drink (apéritif) and ‘nibbles’, followed by a ‘starter’ course such as sea-food, and then stuffed turkey. The dessert is a chocolate Christmas Log made of sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate butter cream and made to resemble a bark-covered log.
On December 6th, St. Nicholas’ Day, ‘Sinterklaas/St. Niklaas’ (Flemish) believed to bring presents to children. This is quite a long time before Christmas. Different regions of Belgium have different customs and traditions about St. Nicholas. On Christmas day (25th), Santa Claus might bring some more presents. Small family Christmas presents are also given at Christmas too, under the tree, or in stockings near the fire-place, to be found in the morning or opened on Christmas Eve.
Pere Noel visits those who speak French. He visits with his companion Pere Fouettard and asks about whether the children have been good or bad. If they have been good they receive chocolates and candies if they have been bad they are more likely to receive a handful of sticks. Gifts are opened on the evening before Christmas, after a Christmas dinner, or the midnight mass, or on Christmas morning. Christmas for both gift-givers is on December 6th, the feast of St Nicholas, it is a religious occasion and is observed with services in churches and quiet family gatherings.
Apart from Capital City of Brussels, Christmas is also celebrated in a big manner in other cities in Belgium like – Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Brussels, Bruges, Schaerbeek, etc. Christmas Markets are setup in these cities.
In Belgium there are two main languages, Flemish and Walloon (a version of French). In Flemish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Vrolijk Kerstfeest’ and in Walloon ‘djoyeus Noyé’.
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2016 & Prosperous New Year !!!