Sunday morning we caught a train to Bruges. We’d heard great things about this little city and had also seen the movie, In Bruges. Although I really cannot remember what happened in the movie, I do remember thinking that the town looked cool and I’d like to visit some day. Well, again, it was rainy and cold and that pretty much put a damper on our experience. It is a charming, beautiful town. And the Christmas Market fulfilled the “cute” requirement. I do have to say though, that while we enjoyed the markets in Belgium, the German market in Edinburgh was better than any of the ones we’ve seen here. Strange, huh?
Anyway, we made our way to the town center and wandered around for a while. The treat of the day was when we happened upon the parade. First came a little marching band playing Christmas carols. Sweet, right? Then came a John Deer tractor pulling a live Nativity scene. Awww. And then another Mary and Joseph came walking along. And then there was a group of men in Masonic robes. And then there was another Mary and Joseph with a donkey. They were followed by the wise men. And this is where it got interesting. Brussels is very diverse – there are people from all over the world there and we saw people from Africa, the Middle East, Asia. You get the picture. Apparently Bruges is not quite as diverse because the wise men were three white guys. One of whom was dressed like an Arab with lots of self-tanner. And the third wise man was covered in black makeup. What???
Now, I don’t think that Belgium has a history of people dressing up in black face and maybe they don’t realize the historical connotations of this, but it was still pretty surprising to me.
The Magi were followed by these two:
Not really sure who they’re supposed to be. And they were followed by this:
‘Cause no Christmas parade is complete without a sanitation worker.
This was cool:
This elderly gentleman was playing Christmas carols on this bell-ringing contraption. Although he made lots of mistakes, I still thought it was adorable.
So, yes, the Christmas parade was bizarre. Three holy families, a sanitation worker, a king and princess, a bell player, and some strange Magi.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around and trying to stay warm and dry. I think I would really like to come back here when it’s warm and less crowded. We weren’t able to check out the canals and from pictures I’ve seen, they’re pretty amazing. But for now, here’s some pictures of some of my favorite scenes.
Oh, and because we’re theology nerds, we had to buy this when we came across it in a store in Bruges. It’s the beginning of what we’re calling our “Examples of Bad Theology Collection”.