I grew up in Brussels and like many migrants am “imprinted” with holidays past in other lands. So, Christmas to me basically still feels like Belgium. The folk festivals, street foods, extreme decorations of Son et lumière - with students parading through the streets after university lets out dressed in lab coats, all forms of steaming hot outdoor foods, and the great illuminated architecture of La Grande-Place de Bruxelles (French) /also Grote Markt (Flemish), and Place Sainte-Catherine… And the sounds of street bands, the smell of pine and foods cooked in market stalls and arcades by increasingly multicultural chefs, the look and feel of the Bandes Dessineés in the book shops (Franco-Belgian comic books elegantly produced in hardbound volumes) — and of course the giant newspaper cones of pommes frites served outdoors and hot with exorbitant amounts of mayonnaise. There has always been a sacred-and-profane quality about Bruxelles and its cultures, including the ability to party lavishly in the streets, a love for the marionettes and parades of its Medieval past, and the celebration of things rough-hewn as well as polished and decorative.
For me, this mental image will contrast with a low-key Aussie Southern Hemispherian Summer Christmas season, that will include keeping an eye open for bushfires, hiking in canyons, and carving out times to swim on certain Southern beaches around Melbourne. And enjoying mussels - a taste I acquired in Belgium!
I hope your holidays, however spread across various lands, are rich and wonderful in their own particular ways.
~ Catherine Schieve
PHOTO CREDITS BELOW
With thanks and photo credits to the following websites:
Noel Grande Place de Bruxelles / impressions2voyage.net
Le marché de Noël de Bruxelles / Oui
Bruxelles Ma Ville / bruxellesmaville.be
Un Pied Das les Nuages / unpieddanslesnuages.com
Plaisirs d'Hiver / plaisirsdhiver.be
Marché de Noël de Bruxelles / BrusselsPictures.com