Belgium is one of the top European vacation destinations. The country is famous for its unique architecture, culture, diversity, and history. If you are looking for a vacation destination during the winter period then you should consider visiting Belgium in the Christmas period.
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A bit of the background on Christmas in Belgium
The country is predominantly Christian and Christmas has been embraced as one of the important holidays in the country for centuries now. Christians across the country follow the Christmas traditions to the letter. Although the religious connotation has reduced significantly, there is still carrying of the Christmas torch across the country.
Depending on the region that you visit, you will enjoy some of the Christmas traditions in the cozy villages, wooden chalets, and other places around the country.
Christmas in Belgium is exceptionally unique and you are going to have a time of your life when you visit the country. It is one of the most breathtaking locations on the planet and in Europe, and two major visitors are known to visit the country and this is Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.
Since the country is home to a mix of people you are going to find different traditions across the country and you are sure that you will enjoy some of the unique traditions that you will only find in Belgium. Some of the groups of people that you are going to find in the country include German, Flemish, French, and Swiss.
During the Christmas period, the people are very much involved in the region. The holiday begins a month before the Christmas period itself. You will find people shopping in different parts of the country and attending masses in churches.
Christmas decoration kicks off as the month of December approaches as many people want to ensure that they have the best experience possible by preparing their houses and their premise. There are various Christmas traditions, customs, and celebration types that you will only find in Belgium.
Visiting Belgium soon? Make sure to read some of our main resources from Belgium:
Without further ado, let’s delve deeper into the Christmas traditions and customs of Belgium!
Christmas customs and traditions in Belgium
During your trip to Belgium, you are going to learn some of the different aspects of the Christmas festivities. Here are some of the defining features that will make your Christmas in Belgium unforgettable:
One of the most fundamental features that you are going to find in Belgium is that they are two Santas in the country. It is not common that you will have two Santas during your Christmas vacation. However, the country guarantees you the best experience that you will ever find elsewhere on the globe.
The most common features that you will get are Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas and Pere Noel or Santa Claus. People who speak the Walloon language usually believe that Santa visits them twice during the festive season. St. Nicholas plays an important character in the Christmas traditions of people in Belgium because they come to check the behavior of the children. During this event, St. Nicholas will reward the children who behaved well during the course of the previous year.
On the other hand, the second visit is mostly used to correct the mistakes or to give the kids an indication that they need to change their behaviors. During your travel to the region, you are going to find people celebrating the different features around the state.
In most cases, children who did not behave well will be presented with rocks and twigs. This is to show them that they need to be on good behavior. The people who speak the Flemish language and French are visited by Santa Claus and they also come twice just as St. Nicolas and they will correct the children as well.
Christmas Festival in Belgium
On 24th December the people in Belgium are known to prepare a special meal consumed by friends and family members. The feast usually begins with nibbles and drinks and it is then followed by appetizers.
When you explore the different parts of the country then you will see the different cultures and customs during your visit. The starters are usually made up of seafood and because seafood is a specialty in the country then you are going to see some of the unique foods around the region.
Unlike other parts of Europe where people fast and eat only vegetarian foods the people in Belgium usually enjoy their feast and they will consume meat and have roast pork or turkey in their main courses.
Depending on the region that you visit in Belgium, you will always have something to eat or enjoy during your visit. Some of the accompaniments that you will find people consuming in this region include soups, salads, gravy, and vegetables.
It is imperative to note that Christmas is never complete without red wine. Wine forms a major part of the dishes that people enjoy in different parts of Belgium and during your travel to the region, you will enjoy the dishes and wine as well.
During Christmas, there is a cake that is made in a shape of a log and it is layered with different amounts of cream. The cake is usually made with similar features to a yule log and depending on the region that you will visit the cake is stuffed with different features such as cranberries, and buttercream among others.
The Christmas Day breakfast will vary depending on the region and some of the delicacies that are enjoyed include bread, jellies, Danish pastries, cold meats, and cougnou – a bread that is made to resemble baby Jesus.
Further reading: Christmas in Lithuania
Christmas Traditions and Customs in Belgium
One of the most celebrated days in the country during the Christmas period is the feast of St. Nicholas. These festivities are often held on the 6th of December each year and it usually begins with a church service and the day ends with a quiet meal at the dinner table with friends and families.
If you visit Belgium in winter, then you will see some of the most exceptional features and the customs of the people. Some of the special Belgian specialties and baked treats are often prepared during this period. It is a time when St. Nicholas visits home and leaves gifts for children.
When you explore different parts of the state you will find people erecting their Christmas tree around the region. You will find different people decorating their Christmas trees with lights. It is a perfect time when you are visiting to see how the Belgian people go overboard when it comes to Christmas decorations.
According to the customs and traditions in the region, families will hang stockings near the fireplace and they will sit around this fireplace as they pray for goodwill and fortune for the next year.
During the Christmas period on 25th December, people will wear advent crowns that are made of fir. They will parade around the cities and towns celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, singing Christmas carols, and reciting Christmas poems.
One of the most popular symbols during your travel to Belgium during Christmas is the star. The star often acts as a symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ as per the Christian Bible. You will find that many people across the country use the star as the main decoration that you will find in the region. They will decorate their houses with stars on the Christmas trees and the roof of their houses.
Further reading: Christmas in Iceland
Christmas Eve in Belgium
When Christmas Eve arrives in Belgium you are going to see some of the most unique features of Christmas festivities. Christmas Eve is often characterized by large communal meals and unwrapping of gifts as people relax under a tree. This is an intimate moment for you to enjoy your time as you bond with your friends and families.
The time taken to prepare the meal and the dishes involved are exceptional and you should try to sample them during your visit to Belgium. After the people have eaten the next item is to open their Christmas presents. While some families will go to the Christmas mass others will remain to play board games and have conversations among other fun activities.
A majority of the people are religious, therefore you will find that they will go to church and during this time you are likely to find nativity scenes. Christmas day in Belgium is a typical day for people to relax and unwind and it is a perfect opportunity for you to interact with your family and friends.
During Christmas Eve you are going to find hundreds of people at the Christmas markets as they are busy shopping for their Christmas.
Decorations and Gifts
Christmas in Belgium shares similar values to western Christmas and you will find that many people are traversing different parts of the country as they purchase gifts for their friends and family. As indicated earlier they will look for a Christmas tree in the forest, mostly fir or spruce.
Thereafter the tree is decorated with Christmas lights and starts. The bulbs and lights will vary depending on the region that you visit. Many families across the country will purchase presents that are shared during the Christmas period. The gifts will vary from small ones to larger ones.
Further reading: Christmas in Liechtenstein
Christmas Day in Belgium
It is important to understand that Christmas is a grand affair in Belgium. During your visit, you are going to see some of the most unique features that make this place an outstanding holiday destination. There are various things that are done during the Christmas period such as:
- poem recitals
- singing Christmas carols
- attending Christmas mass
Many families and friends usually gather and they celebrate their uniqueness and oneness. In most households around the country, people will prefer to stay indoors on Christmas Day as they are enjoying their feast, watching television, and some even unwrapping their presents.
In Belgium, you are going to enjoy a fun-filled Christmas because everyone is in their celebratory mood and you can have a calmer and more relaxed event. The country is filled with unity, harmony, and love, and it is highly celebrated in the true Christmas spirit.
Holiday Food and Drinks in Belgium
Belgium is a unique country that is filled with different cultures, traditions, and customs and you are going to find different food and drinks. Since the country has people from different parts of the world then you are likely to find a blend of Christmas that is only unique to this region.
All the people come with different cultures, cuisines, and drinks. When you are traveling to Belgium you will find some of the most amazing dishes that you will ever taste in the world. The dishes in Belgium are hearty and this will include seafood as well as roasted meat.
The desserts are exceptional and you will find buche de noel which is a cake that is glazed with chocolate and it resembles a log of wood. This is one of the tastiest Belgian traditions.
In addition to this, your Christmas experience in Belgium will never be complete until you taste Speculoos which is a Christmas beer that is often consumed across the country. Besides, you can opt to enjoy some Christmas waffles in one of the Christmas shops around the country.
Further reading: Christmas in Switzerland
The most vital components of Christmas in Belgium are the traditional Christmas markets and Christmas villages. The Christmas villages play a critical role in the dishes that you are going to find in Belgium because they radiate charm with their wooden booths and fairy lights while serving their exceptional artisanal treats.
You are going to see some of the tallest Christmas trees that you will find in the region. The Christmas trees usually vary depending on the region that you are going to visit. In major cities across the country, you will usually find the tallest Christmas trees.
Some of these Christmas villages have the most unique food and drink such as jenever, glühwein, and hot chocolates. These are some of the treats that will keep your belly warm throughout the Christmas festivities and you will have the best experience possible in the region.