Aspects of their culture that are important to them are important to me but I also really enjoy learning the differences between what would be. Belgium: society, character and culture. An essay on the Belgian identity. Situation of the country. The "peaceful anarchism" of Brussels architecture may well be. As with any stereotype, those regarding Belgian people exist for a reason. However, to fully immerse themselves in the Belgian culture, foreigners must.
Wedding bands tend to be simple, no diamonds. Often only one ring acts as both wedding ring and engagement ring. This is despite the fact that nearby Antwerp is considered the diamond capital of the world. Curious to know why?
Belgium: society, character and culture
It has a long history of export and import of diamonds, and the Diamond Office checking the quality of diamonds before shipping them further.
You can read more about the diamond history of Antwerp here. It was a mixture of surprise and disgust. And I learned quickly that the only right place to get bread is from the local bakery. On the other hand, the many foreign rules, the skepticism towards government and authority, the internal linguistic split, and the fact that the country was too small to engage in internationally ambitious enterprises Belgium's only colony, the present Congo, was in fact donated by its king Leopold II, who had privately colonized ithave led to a relative lack of national pride and self-confidence.
Belgium may well be one of the least nationalistic countries in the world.
Belgian cultural clichés
On the positive side this leads to modesty, to openness to external influences and to unwillingness to engage in offensive actions, or even to engage in war at all unless it is purely defensive.
On the negative side, it means that opportunities are missed because one does not dare to take an initiative, on the assumption that the country is not big or powerful enough to start an ambitious project, or to do something better than the others. Belgians may be one of the few nationals who will criticize their country, rather than make publicity for it, among people from other countries. This self-criticism leads often to distorted pictures of the country abroad.
Since Belgium is not sufficiently important for most foreign media to send journalists there on a long term basis, and since the Belgian reality is anyway very complex and counter-intuitive for people living in different types of culture, the media tend to rely on reports by Belgians for their news about the country.
Since these "self-reports" tend to focus on everything that goes wrong, from which the media, as they always do, select the most spectacular aspects, the image you get of Belgium in foreign newspapers is often one of a country on the brink of social and economic collapse. This image is held up in particular by those who dislike the process of European integration, and who see Belgium, home of the European "government" the Commissionas an exemplar of everything that is wrong with the European Union.
This image is completely off the mark, though. Belgium is not only one of the richest countries in the world, but as shown by statistics from the World Bank, averaged over a 10 year period its economy has been growing faster than any of the other rich countries, with the exception of those in East Asia.
While the Asian economies have collapsed in the meantime, the Belgian economy continues to grow at a healthy rate.
Also the different political and social problems are easily put into perspective: No one has died because of political conflicts. Even the few large protest demonstrations that Belgium has known e. There have been no large, national strikes for the past 20 years or so, and the Belgian political system is quite stable, with only small changes now and then in the ruling coalition.
The only "danger" for the foreseeable future is that the two language communities would grow further apart, becoming largely autonomous, so that the Belgian state would only remain as a minor administrative level between the regional level and the European Union level.
The probability that Flanders and Wallonia would separate completely like in the "velvet divorce" between Czechia and Slovakiamaking Belgium disappear, is quite small, though. The reason is that none of the two communities is prepared to give up Brussels, which because of its multilingual status cannot be cut up into a Flemish and Walloon part. The Belgian's lack of pride also leads to the lack of a clear image for the country abroad. Other comparable small countries have easily recognizable images: For Belgium, on the other hand, no clear associations spring to mind.
This is due partly to the lack of image-building and marketing, partly to the fact that the Belgian culture and landscape is extremely varied, and cannot be summarized in a few symbols. To my opinion, it is not due to the lack of a national identity, though.
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That national character is rather subtle, and not easy to formulate in a few words. Though Flemish and Walloon cultures differ in several respects as could be expected, the Flemish are closer to the more disciplined, Northern European, Germanic culture, and the Walloon to the more life-enjoying, Mediterranean, Latin culturethey have more things in common than most are willing to admit.
A clear indication is that, although on the basis of language Wallonia seems to fit in with the neighbouring France and Flanders with the neighbouring Holland, very few in either Flanders or Wallonia have ever dared to suggest that their region should leave Belgium and join the more powerful neighbour state. Not even the German-speaking part, which was annexed after the first world war, is willing to rejoin the wealthy unified Germany.
What all Belgians have in common is a love for the "good life", which they find in their excellent food and drink, comfortable housing, reliable medical and social services, highly developed traffic and communications infrastructure.
Belgians are not the type wanting to impress other people with their achievements, or to convince others of their righteousness. They tend to be rather reserved or introverted in their first contacts with other people, but are sincerely warm and friendly once you get to know them better.
They are happy when they can enjoy a safe and comfortable life, together with their family and friends, and they put a high value on privacy. They have a clear aversion towards moralizing, towards telling other people how they should or should not behave an attitude for which they critize their neighbours in Hollandand they take "live and and let live" as the basis for their philosophy.
Hill, in a book on different European characters, describes the Belgians as "open-minded opportunists", noting their pragmatical attitude.
An anecdote illustrating this attitude was reported by a British officer commanding Belgian troops during the first world war. Whereas soldiers normally are supposed to follow orders without questioning, the Belgians would first ask why they were supposed to do something particular. Only after they got an acceptable reason they would execute the order. This stands in contrast to the often absurd manoeuvres undertaken by British, French and German troops, where thousands of lives were sacrificed in order to gain a few meters of terrain.
This attitude may explain why the losses in human lives were much smaller among the Belgians than among other nations, even though a large part of the battles took place on Belgian territory "Flanders' fields". Another character trait noted by Hill is a "democratic" attitude, in the sense that Belgians make very little distinction between classes or social strata. It is not because you are a professor, a noble man or a rich banker that you will be treated with special respect or privileges.
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On the economic plane, this egalitarian philosophy is illustrated by the fact that Belgium has the lowest percentage of poor people in the world. Quality of life The skepticism towards government, the lack of pride about one's own achievements, and the general "anarchistic" way of doing things may create the false impression that life in Belgium is not well-organized.
Though Belgians dislike discipline imposed upon them by superiors, bureaucracy, ideology or religion, they compensate by hard work and self-discipline. In spite of regular changes of government, Belgians trains do run on time, and the administrative services do help people generally in a fast and effective way. Belgian workers are the most productive in the world.
This high productivity is not limited to industrial work. Although in overall GNP per capita, Belgium only ranks within the 10 or so richest countries, in GNP produced per hour worked, it is first.
This productivity is due to a generally high level of education resulting in highly skilled labor, extended automatization, shift work that minimizes idle time, and low absenteeism. Although employees have relatively much vacation and free time, and can easily take time off for illness without risking to lose their jobs, few working days are actually lost.
This is also due to the excellent system of low cost medicine and the tradition of solving industrial conflicts by negotiations. Somewhat surprisingly, given the well publicized strikes, industrial unrest over the last 15 years in Belgium is one of the lowest in the European Union.
Thanks to the open market, the good distribution channels and the strong consumer requirements, one can find the most diverse and high quality goods in the shops at relatively low prices. The high production and consumption standards have led to the publicity slogan "This is Belgian" being used as a quality label and not, as one might imagine, as an appeal to nationalistic feelings, such as "Buy American".
The association of "Belgian" with "high quality" is slowly diffusing to neighbouring countries, especially in the domains of food, drink and housing. More unexpectedly, Belgians such as the "Antwerp Six" group have made inroads in top ten fashion design, a domain which was almost exclusively under the control of French, Italian and Japanese designers.
Although a few spectacular murders and robberies have grabbed the public attention and crime rates have been increasing, the crime rate in Belgium is still quite low. The British ministery of Foreign Affairs calculated that Brussels is the safest capital in the world with respect to the risk for murder. With a ratio of 0.
Dating a Belgian man
Belgians are also particular about their surroundings, and take pride in clean and well-maintained homes, as well as organisation in their social lives and careers. Thus appearing careless or irresponsible in your habits or manners are not generally attractive traits to Belgian men or women.
Punctuality is also a prided trait, and turning up late is a sign of disrepect. Likewise, your Belgian date is less likely to be available for last-minute plans or impromptu dates. Introductions with strangers tend to be a handshake and formal language, while acquaintances will go for cheek kisses. By no means give chrysanthemums, as they symbolise death. Advertisement Belgian women Belgian women know good food and how to enjoy a meal, yet will never forget to maintain their poise or table manners, which are also vital to reciprocate if you want to impress a Belgian woman.
Belgian women are typically independent, with Belgium boasting good wage equality and employment conditions. Belgian culture is typically modest, and Belgian women do not expect lavish gifts on a first date — add the Belgian trait of being thrifty, and it may even be seen as poor taste.
Belgian women tend to marry early and in some homes traditional gender roles play out. With the emphasis placed on manners in Belgian culture, behaviour is important to Belgian women.
Your feet should never be put on chairs or tables. Your hands should also stay on the table during the whole meal, and never in your lap. If your manners are below par, you can expect to get judging looks from your date. In fact, being courteous to everyone and waiting your turn in all interactions of social life is the premise that holds together Belgian culture.
In this respect, losing your temper with Belgian women or raising your voice can be the quickest path to a break-up.