There are stockings hung on the mantle, an evergreen tree draped in colorful lights, spiral ham or a roast duck on the table, cookies and milk set out for a jolly old man expected to shimmy down the chimney while the children sleep in their beds — however you celebrate Christmas, this most joyous of holidays is a spectacle to behold.
Many types and creeds of people call Belgium home — Flemish to German, Swiss to French — and the country’s Christmas traditions are as culture-driven as its people. The holiday season is Belgium begins nearly a month prior to December 25, and during this time, families go shopping, attend Church, decorate the traditional Christmas tree, and observe a variety of traditional customs and rituals related to its folklore.
How lucky are Belgian children (those on the ‘nice’ list, at least) to receive visits from not one, but two Santas! This is quite unlike Christmas in any other country around the world, but it’s true. In Belgium, children and families recognize the presence of two figures, Pere Noel (Santa Claus) and Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas).
To perform similar duties, Pere Noel and Sinterklaas come around twice each Christmas season — first to survey the behavior of the children, and next to bestow gifts upon the well behaved, twigs and rocks to those who have been naughty.
This much anticipated festival, one of the most important events of the season, is celebrated every year on December 6. The Feast Day of Saint Nicholas is begins with church service and ends with a quiet meal at the dinner table with family. Young and old spend this special day preparing Belgian treats; Christmas trees are decorated on this day, and Saint Nicholas himself stops by for a visit.
As is the case across much of Europe, Christmas Eve is regarded as more important than Christmas itself. The locals call this day le Reveillon de Noel, and departing from their continental counterparts who choose to fast and eat only fish — embark to feast on a special meal of seafood, and roast turkey or pork, and gravy, and salads, and soups, and vegetables, and of course: red wine.
Her people wish each other ‘Vrolijk Kerstfeest’ or ‘Djoyeus Noye’; they wear Advent crowns made out of fir and parade around towns and cities, singing carols and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; they rest; they recognize the true spirit of the holiday — togetherness.
However, and wherever you celebrate Christmas, Wetten Importers wishes you nothing but thoughts of comfort and joy this holiday season.