Linguistically and formally, “Flemish” refers to the region, culture and people of (North) Belgium or Flanders. Flemish people speak (Belgian) Dutch in Flanders, the Flemish part of Belgium. “Belgian Dutch” is slightly different from Dutch spoken in The Netherlands, mainly in pronunciation, lexicon and expressions.
Sport and musical instruments
Most Flemish people play at least one musical instrument like Piano, guitar, drum or base, and/or at least a type of sport, most possibly football or cycling.
In Belgium, the schools are closed on Wednesday afternoon, usually the children will use this time to learn some sports or musical instruments.
“One hot meals per day” principle
The country where I came from, we eat three hot meals per day(different ones obviously), while most Flemish families eat one one hot meal per day(on lunch or evening).
Typically they get a sandwich for lunch and have a cooked meal at home for dinner.
“Hot meal” in Belgium usually contains a piece of meat(beaf stew, chicken, fish, or steak), carbs(potatos, rice or fries), and some salad.
“One hot meal per day” principle demonstrates a big difference on habit between flemish people(also Dutch and Wallons) and the ones coming from the rest of Europe.
Why do they only eat one hot meal per day?
I got told that it is more healthy, they think that to digest hot meal gives burden to the stomach.
Settle down vs Taking risks
The Flemish people like to stay in their comfort zone, they prefer to settle down rather than take risks.
I don’t hear many Flemish give up their jobs to travel the world or do some volunteering job.
They also tend to move back to their villages and stay with the same group of friends most of the time, most of their friends are from very young.
Even in the enterprise during lunch time, they almost always have lunch together with the same group.
“Antwerp is the city, the rest of Belgium is parking lot”
Don’t get mislead by this famous sentence, Brussels remains the biggest city in Belgium. The above sentence says more about the people than the city, where most of the Flemish in Antwerp thinks that they are better than the rest of the world, and despise the rest.
Nowadays this becomes a cheesy joke but in general, Flemish has a good impression of themselves, while seldom give complement to others.
Mussel + Fries
The Flemish people(actually all Belgians) love to eat Moussels, a lot of good ones come from Nederlands, funny because the Nederlands don’t eat them at all.
“Paulo aime les moules frites, sans frites et sans mayo Yo yo yo, yo yo yooo”
The golden planner
The flemish are very good at planning, weekends, trips, work, life etc. In this post I mentioned:
If you run into a Flemish friend on the street, after greetings, they would say “ah it is nice to see you, let’s plan something so we can go for a coffee next time”, then immediately they open their calendar and try to find a time slot. Nice, aren’t they? You might wonder if it is a pleasure why he does not invite you immediately for coffee, well, because it is not in their plan 🙂
Their weekends – work in the garden
A typical Flemish does not drag their enterprise work to weekends. Not only he works hard during the week, he generally also works during the weekend on their house, garden or whatever home project they are working on.
In Belgium, every employee has at least 20 holidays per year excluding the national holidays. Most of the Flemish do take vacations to travel to other countries or cities.
If a Flemish is single or in couple but has no children, they would travel to other countries and see some new things.
When a Flemish couple get children, they would spend their holidays in a relaxed way, typically rent a house next to the sea and stay on the beach, in Spain or Greece.
Older people like more to go to Benidorm or Tenerife.
A typical Flemish person speaks at least 3 languages regardless of the job type.
When I was studying in Belgium, I got to know someone who can speak 8 languages including Chinese, and he was at the same age with me then(around 20)!
Living places in childhood
A typical Flemish usually grows up in a suburb area of the country like Limburg, or any countryside near a city, in a house or villa with a garden, some with a swimming pool. Frankly speaking, Flemish people are quite rich in Belgium, and even in the whole Europe.
Living places college
When they go to college or university, at the age of 18-22, they go to bigger cities and rent a room in a shared house(or apartment) with other students, in Dutch such a room is called ‘kot’.
At this moment they are not considered as moving out from their parents, as this is apparently just a temporary living place during school, so that they don’t have to commute after party to 1 in the morning on a Thursday.
Most of the people spend their weekends with their parents.
Friday evening, they carry a big pack bag or a suitcase filled with their laundries, kinda like what I used to do in high school, only difference is I went back home once per month, and my bag was filled with books for homework. Sunday evening, they come back to the city with clean clothes and food made from their parents so they can put in the freezer in order to consume during the week.
Living places when start to work
After they graduate, depends on people, some of them move out and rent their own apartment, however, as renting is quite expensive in Belgium, most of them would stay with their parents for a few years.
Some parents do charge them for a few hundreds of euros, while most of them could stay for free, like this they can save quite some money so that they can already buy an apartment or a house within 3-5 years.
Buy an apartment
Every Flemish prefers to have their own assets,it is almost natural for them to buy something at the age of marriage or even before that.
I remember once a painter came to my rented apartment to fix the wall, he gave me a big speech of how I should plan step by step to buy my own property. The main idea is, if you have a small income, you should consider buying a small studio, the monthly mortgage will be the same amount with your rent anyway, then after a few years, your studio’s price has raise, you can sell and buy an apartment, eventually you can buy a house. “That is what I have done and now I own 2 houses”.
Buy a house
It is very common for Flemish to buy a house to raise their children and pets, which also means they move from the city to the suburbs to comprise the price.
Typically they will choose to buy a house next to their parents’ village, so that they can stay close with their families and childhood friends can easily help picking up the children.
In Belgium most female continue to work(part time or full time) after having children.
Move back to an apartment
After their children grow up and they get older, they would move back from a house to an apartment for simplified life style, due to financial reason and also physical flexibility.
Are they racist?
Recently I came across this article and saw someone got annoyed by an “racist joke” from a Flemish colleague, it got me thinking.
Indeed if you have an Asian or African face, if they would like to get better know about you, the first thing they would ask is “where are you from ?”.
They also make some jokes regarding other countries like Germany, France, the Nederlands,US, India, China….
But no, they are generally not racist.
Once I got mad to a very good Flemish friend after he joked about China, he explained me that they(Flemish) joke about this kind of things all the time, actually, he even encouraged me to make fun about Belgium. Since then I realized, that they like to acknowledge the difference and put it in a funny way rather than discriminating other races. (I hope)
A typical Flemish works hard, they usually take responsibilities and if necessary, they arrive at the office at 7 to start the day.
A typical Flemish gives constructive suggestions or ideas at work. If you have Flemish friends, you can definitely count on them to give constructive advice on personal matters.
They are responsible and kind
Normally Flemish people will not speak with you or even smile at you if you walk across each other on the street if they don’t know you.
But they will come forward if they think you need help or information.
Once I stopped my car at a parking near my apartment to add some window cleaning water, one neighbor(we never speak to each other before) came to me and asked me if I need help, which was really heart-warming.
Once a friend was moving and she threw her moving garbage in a can near a park, a couple came to us and said if the police saw it we would get a fine which was really nice to know.
Flemish people are very sincere and honest, but it is not very easy to become friends with them if you are a foreigner, but not impossible, maybe check some advice here.
Some pictures are from the internet. Check also the difference of Flemish and Wallons.