Just like all the other European nations, Belgium has its own unique style of celebrating Christmas. Varied traditional beliefs have their shades in the way the festival is celebrated in the country. The present Christmas celebrations in Belgium have also borrowed some of its traditions from America. There are two Santa Claus figures in Belgium, St. Nicholas and Pere Noel. St. Nicholas visits those who speak the Waloon language, while those who speak French are visited by Pere Noel. Read on to know more about the extensive Christmas celebrations in Belgium.
Christmas Celebrations In Belgium
In Belgium, it is a widely held belief that St. Nicholas visits the Walloon-speaking people twice. The first visit is on December 4, when the Saint figures out the good and bad children. December 6 is the Birthday of St. Nicholas and it is considered that he returns to the good children on the day and rewards them with gifts. The children who have indulged in misbehavior are left with twigs. The gifts for good children include candy and toys, while twigs are left in the shoes of bad children or in small baskets that are kept in the courtyard. Pere Noel, who visits the French-speaking people, takes note of the wellness of people.
On the eve of Christmas ('Kerstavond' in Flemish and 'le reveillion de Noel' in Walloon), a special meal is prepared in the households, which the Belgian families enjoy together. The lavish meal begins with a drink (aperitif) and 'nibbles', which is followed by a 'starter' course such as sea-food and the main course, usually stuffed turkey. The dessert is basically a chocolate Christmas log, made of sponge roll, layered with cream. It is called 'Kerststronk' (French) or 'la bûche de Noel' (Walloon). Chocolate butter cream is used to cover the outside of the dessert and it is prepared in a way to resemble a bark-covered log. Special cakes are also baked, for serving as treats during the holiday season.
On Christmas, Belgians attend church services with their family and use the festive opportunity to meet the extended family members and friends. People buy Christmas gifts for children and place them under the Christmas tree. The exchange of gifts in Belgium takes well before the actual date of Christmas celebrations. However, it is the Santa who gives gifts to the small children, while the rest of the family exchanges amongst themselves. The festive occasion is celebrated with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm all over Belgium and people wait for the day with great anticipation.