In Belgium there are two main languages, Flemish and Walloon (a version of French) and the two languages are spoken in different regions.
In Flemish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Vrolijk Kerstfeest’ and in Walloon ‘djoyeus Noyé’.
On Christmas Eve (‘Kerstavond’ in Flemish and ‘le réveillion de Noël’ in Walloon), a special meal is eaten by most families. It starts with a drink (apéritif) and ‘nibbles’, followed by a ‘starter’ course such as sea-food, and then stuffed turkey. The dessert is ‘Kerststronk’ (Flemish) or ‘la bûche de Noël’ (Walloon) a chocolate Christmas Log made of sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate butter cream and made to resemble a bark-covered log.
As in Holland, children in Belgium have two Christmas visitors! On December 6th, St. Nicholas’ Day, ‘Sinterklaas/St. Niklaas’ (Flemish) or ‘Saint Nicholas’ (Walloon) is believed to bring presents to children. This is quite a long time before Christmas. Different regions of Belgium have different customs and traditions about St. Nicholas. On Christmas day (25th), Santa Claus might bring some more presents if you’re really lucky!
Small family Christmas presents are also given at Christmas too, under the tree, or in stockings near the fire-place, to be found in the morning or opened on Christmas Eve.
The traditional Christmas breakfast is the same as the normal Sunday breakfast eaten throughout the year. This is freshly baked crusty rolls (bakeries do their best trade on
Sundays in the Flanders region) with butter & cold meats and/or jam, followed by pastries (like Danish pastries) called “koffiekoek(en)” (meaning coffee cake(s) as they are normal eaten with a cup of coffee!). In Walloon districts (the south of Belgium), a special sweet bread called ‘cougnou’ or ‘cougnolle’ made in a shape that is supposed to be like baby Jesus is eaten for Christmas breakfast.
Some families have Advent Crowns made from fir or leylandii greenery.