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Christmas Traditions in Belgium

Christmas in BelgiumLike many countries Belgiums believe that St. Nicholas, when he comes, does so on his saint day of December 6th. He has nothing to do with Christmas in particular, though he does give presents and decided who gets what based on whether they’ve been good or not. Unlike most countries Belgium has two men who visit that represent Santa for them. The first, St. Nicholas visits twice. Once on December 4th and again on December 6th. He comes to children who speak Waloon and his first visit is to find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. When he returns on his second visit it’s to distribute his prizes to those deserving them. The French speaking population is visited by Pere Noel. He arrives and speaks to his friend Pere Fouttard who then tells him all of the children who’ve been good and bad. Both Santai (plural form of Santa) are known for giving a handful of sticks to the naughty and some sort of treat to the nice.

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Since presents during this time are received inside special holiday shoes, and gift baskets sitting just inside the door, this is where they are placed. Since the Saints birthday is considered a religious occasion it’s celebrated with feasts, family gatherings and visits to church. With movies and books the American tradition of celebrating Christmas on December 25th is spreading throughout the world. These days Belgiums give their children gifts under the tree just like their cousins in the U.S. It’s different for everyone though and whether or not a family sticks to their old traditions relies on the parents. Presents can be given at any time before Christmas as well.

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