Belgian Christmas Traditions
Christmas is Belgium in beautiful. It is a mixture of Flemish, German, Swiss and French traditions, but they all have Christmas in common! Many will decorate their homes and shops in twinkling Christmas lights, fir tree boughs and Christmas trees. And perhaps because of the mixture of customs, there will be two visits by a Santa figure during December. Sinterklaas will visit with his assistant on December 6th to confirm their naughty or nice list, leaving goodies in the children’s shoes. Santa or Pere Noel will visit again on Christmas Eve with gifts for children.
Belgian Christmas Foods
On Christmas Eve (le Reveillon de Noel), the people of Belgium have a special meal with family and friends. The feast usually starts with a drink and appetizers. The “nibbles” are usually made with seafood, since seafood is a specialty in Belgium. Unlike many European countries, who fast and eat only vegetarian food on Christmas Eve, the Belgians feast on meat and usually have a roast turkey or pork as their main course.
Other dishes such as gravy, salads, soups and vegetables will accompany the meal. The meal usually ends with a delicious dessert and this is called Kerststronk in Flemish or la büche de Noel in Walloon. Kerststronk is a log shaped Christmas cake layered with cream. The cake is made to resemble the Yule log and is often stuffed with different fillings such as butter cream or cranberries.
Christmas breakfast the next morning, traditionally includes cold meats, jellies, bread, Danish pastries and the customary Cougnou (bread shaped in the form of baby Jesus).
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