Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Eve/Fete des Rois

Sorry I've been dragging my feet on these last couple of posts... I've been feeling a little under the weather lately (read: copious amounts of snot in my head), so I've been sleeping/lazing around a lot.

Anyhow, New Year's Eve. After several hours of recuperative sleep upon my return to my house in Valenciennes, my friend Shelby and I decided to go to Brussels for NYE, because our friend David was already there with some of his friends from home, and because who wants to stay in Valenciennes for New Year's? We made some cheap, last-minute hostel reservations and hopped on the bus to Quievrechain, walked into Quievrain, and took the train to Brussels. By the time we met up with David and company, it was about 11pm (we didn't even leave Valenciennes until after 9pm). He and his friends had rented an apartment for the weekend that had an incredible view of the city, so we took in the midnight fireworks and had our champagne there. Afterward, about half of the crowd decided to call it a night, and the rest of us decided to see what Brussels' club scene had to offer. Not much, apparently. We went to a club we had heard about called "You," only to be turned away at the door by a mean, frighteningly skinny, chain-smoking woman in a fur coat. Disappointed but undeterred, we ended up in another club down the street with decent music and we danced for a while. After about an hour there, the boys were ready to head home and to bed (it was about 3am, after all), but Shelby and I were still wide awake, so we went in search of another club. Unable to find one with a cover that was less than 15 E, we gave up, got some kebab (Northern Europe's answer to the late-night White Castle run), and decided to take the long, but scenic, walk back to the hostel. All in all it was an enjoyable, if not terribly eventful night.

Shelby and Me in the streets of Brussels
Then last week I also celebrated "Fete des Rois" with my roommates. Also know as Epiphany or Twelfth Night, it was a holiday I had heard of but had never celebrated. Indeed we didn't "celebrate" it so much as we used it as an excuse to eat cake and drink wine. But we had a good time nonetheless, because who doesn't have fun when cake and wine are involved? Anyway, to celebrate Fete des Rois, you have to have a gallette des rois, ie, a king cake. This is just a simple tart or cake (ours was something between a giant croissant and an apple pie), with a little figurine (could be a baby Jesus, or a crown, or, in our case, a small cake) baked into it somewhere. Tradition dictates that the youngest person (in this case, me) sits under the table while the cake is cut. Then, the question: "C'est a qui, Sara?" Who is this piece for? And from under the table I blindly assign each piece of cake to someone sitting at the table. The point of this is to ensure that whoever ends up with the little figurine in their piece gets it entirely by chance, and not by cheating, which is apparently rampant on this holiday. Then the person who finds the figurine their piece is the "king" and gets to wear a paper crown and look silly for the rest of dinner. And that's pretty much it. The winner at our house was Joelle, another couchsurfer we hosted, who was Belgian and very nice:

And here's me, under the table:

And that's really all I have to say for now. Happy Monday, everyone!

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