Customs and traditions
Belgium is not a very homogeneous country,
for many residents the regional identity is more
important than the Belgian one. A large proportion of
the residents also have their roots in foreign
cultures. Some unifying symbols exist, such as the
national team in football and the royal house - and
beer, french fries and chocolate.
Among things that can still be said of Belgians in
general is that family and family often play a central
role. The geographical mobility is quite limited, many
live at their place of birth and thus have the family
close in. Order and cleanliness and cleanliness are seen
as a virtue. Many keep their gardens well-groomed and
the sidewalk outside the door swept, and are themselves
usually neatly dressed when performing in public.
People who do not know each other greet by shaking
hands. Kind kisses are common between acquaintances and
friends. One kiss on the right cheek or three kisses
alternately. Men usually do not greet each other with
cheek kisses, at least not in Flanders. A polite
greeting phrase is pleasant in Flemish and
enchanted in French.
Overview of the capital city of Belgium, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
A sensitive topic is the contradictions between
Walloon and Flemish. Humor and satire are otherwise
often welcomed and the Belgians are known to gladly
carry on with themselves.
Business attire is often quite conservative. Men
prefer to wear dark suits and ties and well-fitted
lace-up shoes, and women wear suits or strict dresses.
Anyone who is invited to a Belgian home can bring
flowers, a chocolate box or a bottle of wine. Flemish
people raise the glass twice as they toast, before and
after. You should eat everything on the plate, that
leaving food appears as impolite and wasteful.
Moules fries, cooked mussels served with
french fries, are something of a national dish. French
fries are usually considered to be a Belgian invention.
They are often sold in street stands and served with
mayonnaise. Other well-known dishes are waterzooi,
a stew of chicken or fish and shredded vegetables in
broth, and stoofvlees (carbonated flaming
in French), a stew of beef cooked in beer. Belgian beer
is widely known and produced at a variety of small
breweries, but imported wine also has an important
place. Belgian waffles are also popular.
National Day is celebrated on July 21, which was King
Leopold I's coronation day in 1831 (see Older history).
The Flemish have their own national day on July 11, in
memory of a battle in the 1300s, while the
French-speaking people have their own celebration on
September 27 and the German-speaking on November 15. New
Year and the first of May are also holidays, as is the
November 11th anniversary which honors those who died in
the First World War. The holidays are otherwise largely
Christian: Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Virgin Mary
Ascension (August 15), Halloween and Christmas Day.
General strike paralyzes the country
A 24-hour strike is carried out and is the most extensive in many years. Air,
train and road transport are down. Schools and public workplaces are closed.
The widow queen dies
Widow Queen Fabiola dies, 86 years old. Fabiola married King Baudouin in 1960
and was queen until his death in 1993. The couple had no children, Baudouin was
succeeded by his brother Albert.
Protest against austerity
Around 100,000 people participate in a demonstration in Brussels against
plans to raise retirement age, pay cuts and cuts in public service. The protest
campaign is one of the largest in the country since the Second World War and is
to be followed by a month-long campaign until a nationwide strike. After the
demonstration, violence erupts and the police resort to tear gas and water
cannons. About 50 are injured and around 30 are arrested.
Four months after the parliamentary elections, a new government is finally
presented. The Liberal MR's Charles Michel becomes prime minister for a
coalition government that also includes three Flemish parties: N-VA, VLD and
CD&V. Of the 14 ministers, seven are MRs, three N-VA and two each VLD and CD&V.
N-VA leader De Wever is not part of the government. It has been almost three
decades since Belgium was last ruled by a center-right government.
Islamist recruits in court
Almost 50 people are facing the right to be suspected of belonging to a group
that sent soldiers to militant Islamist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) in
Iraq and Syria.
New government leaders
Government formation after the May elections is running out of time and King
Philippe appoints two new government leaders: the Flemish Christian Democrats
(CD&V) leader Kris Peeters and the Walloon Liberals (MR) Charles Michel.
Parliamentary elections strengthen nationalists
In the parliamentary elections, the Flemish Nationalist Party N-VA receives
33 seats, followed by the Walloon Socialist Party PS (23 seats), Walloon Liberal
MR (20), Flemish Christian Democratic CD&V (18), Flemish Liberal VLD (14),
Flemish Socialists SP-A (13), the Walloon middle party CDH (9), the Flemish
environmental party Green (6), the Walloon environmental party Ecolo (6) and the
others (8). Also in the elections to the European Parliament, held on the same
day, the N-VA becomes the largest, followed by the VLD. King Philippe gives the
government-commissioned assignment to N-VA leader Bart De Wever.
Terrorist acts against the Jewish Museum
24th of May
A lone perpetrator shoots three people to death at the Jewish Museum in
Brussels. A fourth person later dies of his injuries. A Frenchman linked to
radical Islamists is arrested a few days later and later extradited to Belgium.
He is sentenced in March 2019 to life imprisonment. Another Frenchman is
sentenced to 15 years in prison for helping plan the terrorist act and providing
the perpetrator with weapons. The main culprit is considered to be the first to
fight with the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and then attacked in Europe. Four
French journalists testified during the trial how he was their prison guard when
they were held in Syria in 2013–2014.
Euthanasia for children is approved
The Second Chamber agrees to a controversial bill that has already been
approved in the Senate, which means that euthanasia is allowed for seriously ill
children. The Catholic Church has been a leader in opposition to the bill.
Euthanasia for adults has been allowed since 2002 in Belgium.