Traditions & Customs in Belgium
- Belgians don’t like to talk about their income or politics. It is also best to avoid asking people their opinion about religion.
- The question of Flanders and Wallonia is a controversial issue and best avoided.
- Do not try to speak French in Flanders and Dutch in Wallonia! Speaking the ‘wrong’ language can be considered very offensive in both regions and you will either be ignored or, at worst, receive a frosty response and inferior service. However, the closer you get to the language border, the less often this will be the case. Throughout the country, the lingua franca between Flemings and Walloons has become English, especially among the younger generation, to avoid being addressed in the “other language”. Therefore, as a tourist, it is best to start a conversation in English or in the “right” language, i.e. Dutch in Flanders and French in Wallonia.
- Don’t tell the Walloons (and most Brussels people) that they are French. Most Walloons speak French, but they are not French and do not consider themselves as such and do not like to be associated with their neighbour France.
- And, for similar reasons, don’t tell the Flemish (and also the Brussels) that they are Dutch. Most Flemings speak (Flemish) Dutch, but they are not Dutch and do not consider themselves as such and do not like to be associated with their neighbour, the Netherlands.
- Finally, the same applies to the 75,000 German-speaking Belgians who have a difficult historical past with their neighbour Germany.
- Belgians are generally very proud of their cartoonists. The “Belgian School of Comics” is praised as a point of national pride. In Belgium, comics are precious books with a hard cover. There are dozens of beautiful but expensive merchandising items, and Belgians are infatuated with them. For example, a plastic figurine of a comic book character or a special piece of art by a famous comic book artist would be a perfect gift for your Belgian friends and in-laws.
- A tip shows that you were satisfied with the service you received, but you certainly don’t have to give it. This is sometimes done in bars and restaurants. Depending on the total amount, a tip of 0.50 to 2.50 euros is considered generous.