This is the first in a series of Christmas Around The World guest posts, in which bloggers from across the globe will be telling us all about Christmas in their home country. First up we have Melissa from Kiss & Make Up, sharing an insight into the holiday season in Belgium. 

Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?

My name is Melissa and I’m a beauty blogger and freelance writer from Belgium. In January of 2013 I moved to Switzerland, but I go back to Belgium every year to celebrate Christmas with my family.

What does Christmas day look like in Belgium?

It might seem odd, but we don’t open presents on Christmas morning. Often we have already exchanged our gifts on Christmas Eve, or we wait until after dinner on Christmas day to do so. 

A traditional Christmas day for me usually starts around 3PM. My fiancé and I get together with our family at a family member’s house – usually our parents’ or grandparents’ house – and we start with a Christmas toast. Then around 5PM the first course of a long Christmas dinner is served. For several hours the food keeps coming and the wine keeps flowing until even the biggest eaters can eat no more. Usually we take a food break between the main course and dessert to exchange gifts. And then the party continues, usually until way past midnight.

For us – and I think for most people – Christmas is just a really great opportunity to gather the family and for everyone to get together and catch up. It’s so lovely to spend quality time with the people you love in such a cheerful and festive atmosphere.

What food is served for dinner?

We don’t really have traditional Christmas foods on Christmas day, or at least in my family and in my fiancé’s family we don’t. There may be some mash to accompany the main course and some pie for dessert, but all those traditional foods that you see in the movies like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, eggnog and so on? Never had them. 

So what do Belgians typically have for Christmas dinner then? To be honest, I don’t think my country really has any typical Christmas foods. A lot of families – mine included – like having meat fondue, raclette or ‘gourmet’ on Christmas day though. And for dessert we often have ‘kerststronk’ or in French ‘bûche de Noël’, which is a rolled up cake made of sponge or ice cream, in the shape of a bark-covered log.

Which are your favourite Christmas songs and movies?

The biggest Christmas song of all times – for me at least – has to be All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey. Whenever that song comes on the radio I just have to sing along. It’s also the only Christmas song that I genuinely like. I don’t care much for most other Christmas songs.

And my favourite Christmas movies? Definitely Home Alone 1 & 2, mainly because they bring back very fond memories from my childhood. My younger brother and I would watch them together every year during the holidays.

Which is your favourite Christmas memory?

Mmm, I don’t know. I don’t think any Christmas has ever been so remarkable or unforgettable that it really stood out for me. They have all been consistently good I guess. Who knows, maybe my favorite Christmas memory will be made this year. Since I didn’t get to spend Christmas in Belgium last year, I can’t wait to do so this year. I think I started my countdown somewhere in October, I am that excited to go back home and see my family again!

Does your family have any unusual Christmas traditions?

I wouldn’t call it a tradition exactly, but my parents and I are big Boney M fans, so when we get together for Christmas I always bring my Boney M Megamix so we can have our little Boney M bonanza. It’s basically just the three of us letting loose and acting silly. It’s fun! And embarrassing… Embarrassingly fun :)

Have you ever spent Christmas in a different country? How did that differ from being at home?

Last year I had to cancel my Christmas plans because of work, so my fiancé went back to Belgium by himself and I stayed behind in Switzerland.

Two friends of mine, both South Africans, insisted that I celebrate Christmas with them and they invited me over for Christmas dinner. I didn’t know what to expect from a South-African Christmas dinner, but I liked it a lot and I recognised a lot of things from movies that – to me – seemed very typical for Christmas. They had made a big Christmas roast and had prepared tons of side dishes and stuffing as well as a huge selection of home-made pies and desserts. I could barely walk afterwards, I felt so stuffed!

Thanks Melissa! Are there any other Belgian readers out there? What does your Christmas look like?