The rumors about our Kingdom, Belgium…they are true. We have an unsatiable appetite for things like chocolate, wafels, Belgian fries and on Sundays, mussels! It’s what makes us Belgians, Belgianites, Belgiumlanders, whatever you call us. Our King approves. But what do Belgians really do when they are not immersed in epicurean indulging?
Counting Finches – Vinkenzetten
Another proud Belgian custom is that of Vinkenzetten or “counting finch songs”. On a Sunday afternoon, dozens of senior citizens will gather together with their melodious pets. For no longer than one hour they will tally the amount of times the bird chirps its favorite tunes. Competition is fierce. Not only is the distance between contestants mere feet, due the high pitch sound of the finch, it can be hard to differentiate your finch’s muses from your competitor’s. Verbal altercations amongst neighbors are numerous. Ordinarily, police presence is needed to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
Pigeon Racing – Duivenmelken
Of all popular pastime activities in Belgium, Pigeon Racing is by far the most labor-intensive sport. It works like this: You buy a pigeon. Early on Sunday morning, you place the pigeon in a basked and bring it to the local pub, where the race starts. You then let your pigeon fly to Erps-Kwerps and back (or to Barcelona if you’re a high end pigeon holder). Meanwhile you wait while drinking some of the finest lagers in the world. Upon arrival, you measure the time it took your avian partner in crime to complete its journey. If you have the fastest feathered creature, monetary prizes are known to add to thousands of euros. Not to mention the admiration of the local pigeon-holders’ community!
Amateur Cycling – Wielertoeristen
Belgians love cycling. So much so, the amateur network of cyclists is bigger than its professional counterpart. It’s like fantasy football in America. Usually over the weekend, thousands of amateur cyclists will gather for a day of biking fun. After riding for many kilometers, they will reward their dehydrated bodies with some Westmalle Tripple or some other premium beer provided by Belgian monks. Sadly, there have been reports of cyclists fallen victim to road rage by other people on the street because of their traveling in large groups and their bikes not being equipped with bells, a blatant violation of Belgian traffic law.