GrobbendonkNovember 8, 2017 in Belgium
After our day in Antwerp we stayed 2 nights at the motorhome aire on the outskirts of Grobbendonk (another great Belgian name!) There were a lot of other vans there as the aire provided electric hookup for a small charge, but it was generally a quiet spot.
Grobbendonk was a regular brown brick Belgian town. On the 1st morning we strolled up and down the mainstreet and past the bread vending machine to visit one of the two boulangeries for a loaf and sweet treats. Behind a glass panel there was a display of themed chocolates and marzipan creations. Many of the chocolates were in the shape of a holy man in a mitre and alongside the fruit shapes, were marzipan ducks! No, they hadn't made a special effort for us Duckworths, the collection was all in aid of St Niklaas or Sinterklaas and the day of present giving on 6th December. Santa Claus is reportedly based on Sinterklaas, who arrives in Belgium by steamboat from Spain each year. This legendary figure with his white beard, red mitre and robes, parades through towns on his white horse. Children cheer and sing Sinterklaas songs as his Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) assistants throw sweeties and gingerbread cookies into the crowd. Kids will leave their shoes with a carrot or hay and some water for Sinterklaas' horse by their chimney or radiator. If they've been good, they'll revieve a small present or some of the plethora of festive sweets, including mandarins, the first letter of their name or coins made out of chocolate, suikerbeest; (sugar animals) and speculaas (cinamom biscuits). Ring any bells so far? If they have been bad then the politically incorrect Black Pete will snatch them away with his cane and jute bag 🤤
Belgians celebrate Christmas on 25th of December as we do in the UK but it is always interesting to learn about the different traditions of each country.
With Vicky clutching the box containing our marzipan ducks, we returned to the van, via a frituur for Will to buy some lunchtime fries.Read more