It's carnival week throughout Belgium. Both Flemings and Walloons have just spent the weekend, and will spend the coming week, partying and drinking, dressed up in costumes of all shapes, sizes and colours, with events and parades taking place to mark the beginning of Lent. It's been just over a year since I sampled one of the most famous, in Binche, which this year, took place yesterday.
And for those who aren't off celebrating, they're off skiing. The schools and universities are shut for the week. Some will spend the week 'doing carnival,' others will be off skiing in France or Switzerland. In fact, judging by my work, most will be off doing one thing or the other. According to my students, most of the workers where I teach have taken to the mountains. The car park was probably only about a third full today. And this tradition will be replicated throughout Wallonia. Everyone takes the week off work, packs up, and heads for the slopes.
Now, we of course have half-term, where the kids are off school, and of course the teachers have a week off too. But, I just can't imagine a situation where for one week a year, office workers and factory workers alike, together, take time off, at the same time, and "go skiing." Something tells me they like to enjoy themselves round here; make the most of life.
My students can't seem to understand why I find this so surprising. Everyone I speak to knows someone who has gone skiing. Luckily for me, only some, but not all, of my students have joined them. Who says the Walloons are work-shy??