Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, 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.
- Countryaah: 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.
According to Countryaah, 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.