~ How do you say Merry Christmas in Belgium ? "Joyeux Noël" (French) and "Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" (Dutch) ~


St. Nicholas is the patron of school children, since he is said to have revived three children that an unscrupulous pork butcher had turned into sausage meat! To Belgian children, he is Santa Claus, arriving on December 6 (though children also receive presents at Christmas). In university towns, students leave the classrooms and parade in the streets, singing and drinking. These festivities are funded in part by a collection that the students take up early in the day, beer mugs in hand. Traditionally the burghers who refused to donate were pelted with flour and eggs. Though this tradition is dying out, don't say you haven't been warned!



Christmas trees are a recent addition to Belgian Christmas traditions. Families who choose to decorate trees for the holidays use a variety of ornaments. Many families hang spiced cookies from the branches of their tree, while the Museum of Science and Industry's is covered with fruit that represents the rich agricultural bounty of Belgium.



Plays and scenes depicting the nativity are popular in Belgium, and many date back to the 16th century. In smaller villages, the three kings sing carols from door to door on January 6th while families are enjoying their Christmas Eve meal of Aarappel Kroketjes, fried potato croquettes, and Speculoos, cookies made with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In keeping with the holiday spirit, they are rewarded with food and drink at each home.


Marché de Noël à Liège