Christmas in Belgium

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In Belgium there are two Santa Claus figures. There is St. Niklaas and Pere Noel.

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Pere Noel visits those who speak the Walloon language, in fact he visits them twice. The first time is on the December 4th he does this so he can find out which children have been good and which children have been bad.

If a child is good he returns on December 6th with the presents the good children deserve if they were bad they are left twigs. The good children usually received candy and toys. With the bad children he leaves the twigs inside their shoes or in small baskets that are left just inside the doorway.

Pere Noel visits those who speak French. He visits with his companion Pere Fouettard and asks about whether the children have been good or bad. If they have been good they receive chocolates and candies if they have been bad they are more likely to receive a handful of sticks.

Christmas for both gift-givers is on December 6th, the feast of St Nicholas, it is a religious occasion and is observed with services in churches and quiet family gatherings. Special cakes are baked and served during the holiday season and are a treat for children and adults.

The other part is called "Flemish" where they are Dutch speaking. They are visited by St Niklaas, they are in the North half of the country.

St-Nicholas doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. It's His Birthday on December 6th, and then he visits all children to bring them presents.

And then there is Christmas, December 25. The day Jesus Christ was born. The last years the American tradition around Christmas is coming over here. By movies and storybooks.

Now Children get gifts under the Christmas tree also. But this isn't the same everywhere. But it mostly depends on the parents. At some family, they buy gifts for each other and put them under the tree. There's no Santa to bring them. In others, mostly when there are still li'l children it's Santa who brings the gifts and puts them under the tree.

That can be on Christmas Eve, but sometimes in the weeks before Christmas. Gifts are opened on the evening before Christmas, after a Christmas dinner, or the midnight mass, or on Christmas morning.