There are many unique things found within Belgian culture. From the cuisine – such as the fries, chocolate, waffles, beer and beer-stewed beef. To the 3 main languages – Dutch, French and German. To the comics – including the Smurfs and Tin Tin.
But one thing that pervades Belgian culture is their festivals. They’re kind of like carnivals, concerts, markets and parades all wrapped up into one.
Actually, on the Wikipedia page for ‘Belgian culture’, you’ll find this description under the last section entitled Folklore:
Festivals play a major role in Belgium’s cultural life. Nearly every city and town has its own festival, some that date back several centuries. These are not merely aimed at tourism but authentic celebrations that take months to prepare.
It’s really true – nearly every city and town has its own festival. And they are not tourist attractions. They exist for the people of Belgium.
This past week, such festivities were held in our own little town of Huldenberg. It’s a bit smaller than other festivals, but still fun for the kids. And I’m happy walking away with some fries with a dollop of mayonnaise on top. Lekker (Yummy)!!
This week is the Druivenfeest (Grapes Festival) in the larger town in our area, Overijse. It lasts for a whole 9 days. And then, in about 3 weeks time, a similar Druivenfeest is held within the town of Hoeilaart, where we lived the first 3 years of our time in Belgium.
I actually prefer the one in Hoeilaart the most, though I’m beginning to enjoy the others as well.
The picture just above is from our time at the Overijse Druivenfeest today. On the Sunday afternoon, various businesses drive around in sponsored cars, trucks and tractors, passing out flyers for their business. But what this time is really known for is the throwing of candy to the crowd. People line the streets and wait for handfuls of sweets to rocket out from the vehicles. We stocked up on a handful or two, or five, today!
Even in December, one will notice the various Christmas markets spread around Belgium as well. Things are a bit different than the summer, with one specialty being the Glühwein/vin chaud offered at the various stands. This is hot wine, or mulled wine as the Brits call it. I love me a cup of Glühwein!
So, here’s to enjoying Belgian culture. There are some things we must still get used to (like detours being thrown up whenever and wherever, without necessarily much warning). But we truly enjoy the culture offered to us by this beautiful people and land.