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The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions

December 24, 2021
Each country has its own sets of fascinating traditions. Belgium is definitely one of them. When you get here, you'll find that the locals have certain ways of doing things, especially when it comes to the holiday season. Wouldn't you want to know more about them? If you're planning to spend New Year's in Belgium, you'd want to get to know their holiday traditions, right? Some are fun and exciting while others are a lot more solemn and seeped with heavy historic symbolism. Here are a five that you absolutely must know!

The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions


UPDATE: Due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, many of the events listed in this article have been canceled. Please be advised.


Celebrating St. Sylvester Eve

New Year's Eve isn't just an ordinary holiday for the Belgians. More than just the final day of the year, December 31st is also known as St. Sylvester Eve. Commonly referred to here as 'Sint Sylvester Vooranvond,' it's the feast day of Pope Sylvester I, who served as the pope from 314 to 335. Incidentally, his date of death and final day as pope was on December 31st of 335. On this day, before taking part in various New Year's Eve celebrations, Belgians hear mass or offer prayers to the saint. There's also a superstition where unmarried women who haven't finished their work by the time sun sets on St. Sylvester Eve won't get married in the following year.
The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Kids Make New Year's Greeting Cards

Ordinarily, people would exchange cards around Christmastime, right? More often than not, they'd come from adults and the elderly and the Christmas cards they hand out to the younger ones would be filled with cash. Here in Belgium, however, it's the other way around. In celebration of Nieuwjaarsdagand (New Year), children save up their money to buy stationery, coloring materials, and more to make cards on December 31st. And once the new year starts, they'll give their well-crafted works to their parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, and other close adults. It's an adorable tradition here in Belgium.
The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Kissing The Past Year Away

Since Belgium is pretty close to France and the former has its own French community, many of the latter's traditions are also followed here. One of which is kissing once the clock strikes twelve. It's no secret that the French can be pretty passionate when it comes to showing affection but their Belgian neighbors have always been a lot more conservative. But not on New Year's Eve. Once January 1 arrives, you can expect people here to be kissing each other left and right. And no one escapes each others' lips either! The tradition goes that everyone gets a kiss on New Year's Eve!
The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Toasting the New Year with Champagne

Another French tradition that the Belgians follow every New Year's? Toasting with champagne. People all throughout Belgium, especially those who belong in the French community, pop open bottles of champagne to ring in the New Year. It helps that France's Champagne region actually borders Belgium too, so the latter can get as many bottles of legit, authentic, and fine champagne right in time for the holidays. And for those who don't know, only sparkling wines that were produced and came from this French region are allowed to be called 'champagne' under the French laws. It's no wonder Belgium follows this tradition too!
The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions
Source: Wikimedia Commons


The Cold New Year's Dive

Not to be one-upped by the French, the Flemish also have their own New Year's tradition that also came from the neighboring country of the Netherlands. And in fact, theirs is the most unique and arguably most entertaining of them all. Just like how they do it in Amsterdam, Belgians also go on a cold, freezing swim on New Year's Day. Even though it's winter here during the holidays, thanks to that the tradition that the Dutch started back in the 1960s, the Belgians eventually followed suit. The 'Cold New Year Dive' doesn't really symbolize anything; they just do it for the fun of it!
The Five Most Fascinating Belgian New Year's Traditions
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Txllxt TxllxT

One of the best parts about the holidays is that you can get a better sense of countries on how they traditionally celebrate this season. The Belgians, for instance, have pretty fascinating traditions for New Year's Eve.

Though not exactly a tradition, it'd be great if you got yourself a luxury home in Belgium during your New Year's celebrations here!




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