Belgium Culture

Belgium Culture and Traditions


Located both geographically and politically at the center of the European continent, Belgium shows in its cultural tradition visible traces of both French and Germanic proximity, elaborated over the centuries in a deeply original and proper synthesis, clearly recognizable in all artistic disciplines. In architecture the most important Romanesque and Gothic influences arrived from the French area, were absorbed and rethought by the Belgians, especially in civil architecture (town halls, squares and beffrois), giving life to the style universally recognized as Flemish. The originality of the Belgian contribution to the evolution of painting is even more evident. The Flemish school was born in the 15th century in Brugge with the work of the Van Eyck brothers, whose model will influence the way of painting in the most important European courts, and reaches its perfection in the Baroque age with the work of Peter Paul Rubens, mainly active in Antwerp. In the nineteenth-twentieth century the country remained at the forefront in the figurative and architectural arts, with the Art Nouveau of Horta and van de Velde, the impressionism of James Ensor; and later with the magical surrealism of Renè Magritte. In the literary field, the cultural history of Belgium has been marked through the centuries by the phenomenon of Flemish-Walloon bilingualism. The greatest authors of the last century, the playwright Maurice Maeterlinck (Nobel Prize for Literature) and the novelist Georges Simenon, write in French. On the other hand, Belgium has an important tradition also from the scholastic point of view: the first municipal schools were created during the flowering period of the Flemish commercial cities; and in 1425 the famous Catholic University of Louvain was founded, which became a cultural center to which students from all over Europe flocked. As for traditional customs, Belgium is a country very rich in folklore, which manifests itself above all in the various Flemish and Walloon festivals linked to the main celebrations of the year (Christmas, Easter, carnival etc.), as well as in the numerous productions of handicrafts (lace, lace, tapestries, ceramics and glass).


According to Extrareference, there are many popular events with a long tradition in Belgium. Among the festivals of great appeal, the Walloon carnival of Binche, the Flemish festival of the Holy Blood of Bruges, which hinges on a procession of groups depicting scenes of the Passion following a relic (drop of Christ’s blood), and, always in Flanders, the procession of the penitents of Furnes. Some Flemish traditions refer to Celtic culture, such as the cat festival of Ypres, which culminates in the launch, by the so-called “madman”, of cats, now fake, from the top of the civic tower. Another singular Flemish festival of pagan origin is that of the launch of the sweets called krakelingen, held in Grammont on the first Sunday of Lent.. Among the recurrences of the Walloons, one of the most singular, after the aforementioned carnival of Binche, is the procession of Mons, centered on the evocation of the struggle between St. George and the dragon; Military costume rides are also very popular, with the blessing of the mounts. Among the typical characters, which are very numerous, in addition to the aforementioned “crowds” of Ypres, the famous Gilles are remembered, who dominate the Binche carnival and are the symbol of the Belgian carnival. Typical masks are the Haguettes of Malmédy, the Blancsmoussis of Stavelot, the Chinels by Fosses; the “giants”, enormous papier-mâché figures, are still widely used. Another undisputed protagonist of the costume of the Belgian nation, so much so that it has become the symbol of the country even at a supranational level, is the Manneken-Pis. It is the statue of the naked child who, placed as a decoration of a fountain in the center of Brussels, pees continuously inside it. Finally, a particular custom survives in Geel (between Antwerp and the Dutch border), where, according to medieval custom, about three thousand mentally insane families are housed in families. Medieval remnants are also found in the numerous associations (Flemish guildsserments in the valley) of archery and crossbow shooters; another interesting aspect of the Flemish popular tradition is the survival of the carillonsbell concerts still in operation on about sixty bell towers. Belgian craftsmanship also enjoys a wide reputation in Europe. Among the most renowned productions that of lace and lace; the art of glassware, ceramics and glass. The Flemish tapestries deserve a particular mention and in particular those of Brussels, whose fame spread from the fourteenth century, for the refined productions of tapestries depicting religious scenes and for the precious tapis d’or, woven with gold and silk threads. The custom of making ice sculptures in winter is curious. § The gastronomy counts among the most characteristic foods the salade liègeoise (green beans and pork rinds in vinegar sauce), the Ghent Waterzoie (casserole chicken), the boudins (blood sausages variously prepared according to the localities), the smoked jambons of the Ardennes. Referring to the large consumption of poultry, the residents of Brussels are jokingly referred to as kiekefretter (chicken eaters). Fish cuisine is also typical: eels, mussels and oysters are served with a generous side dish of french fries (frites) in numerous restaurants. The pastry is very varied (known are the coeurs of Bruges), the gaufres / wafels and the crepes / pannekoeken are the typical sweets of the country. As far as chocolate is concerned, Belgium is the first producer in the world of pralines, refined filled chocolates. National drink is beer, of which more than fifty varieties are produced in the country. Among the most famous are the bières blanches, based on wheat, with a milky color, the lambic, spontaneously fermented and often flavored or fruity, the abbey beers and the Trappist beers, produced in the abbeys of Belgium according to traditional recipes handed down for generations of monks.

Belgium Culture

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