It was a day of cultural encounter last Thursday as Nigerians and the diplomatic community joined the Belgian community at a reception to celebrate the Belgian King's day at the residence of Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Dirk Verheyen in Abuja.
There were Belgian cuisine to feast on and French music as guests mingled and enjoyed the ambiance of cultural display from Europe and Africa as some of them danced to macosa music performed by a live band.
Deputy Head of Missions, Mr. Xavier Baert told Travel & Leisure that the ceremony was celebrated along with her national day which is usually celebrated on July 21.
He said it was significant to celebrate the day which has been marked since the nineteenth century when the second king was enthroned. "November 15 was chosen, because it is St. Leopold's Day and the first and second kings of Belgium were, Leopold. It was decided that it should be celebrated on this day.
"The dates through history have sometimes been changed but since 1951 it has remained constant. This is not the national day. Many of the Belgian embassies across the world when they celebrate the King's Day do so with the national day."
He explained that it was not a day as symbolic as the national day which has more fanfare and glamour to it. There is also 'Te Daum' a religious anthem for the King at the cathedrals and ceremonies at the parliament in Brussels. There is a distinction between the secular and the religious one though Belgium is no longer a religious state."
Being in the middle of winter, the celebration is low keyed and less of a popular celebration in Belgium but is a holiday for public officials only. With the national day, there are parades and costumes on display.
Baert said "we prefer to celebrate the national day here in November, because in July many are away on holiday so it less feasibility. We hold this reception, basically, for the people we work with on a daily basis.
These include the Nigerian authorities, ECOWAS, our colleagues from the diplomatic community, the business community and also for our own nationals here in Nigeria which number about 200. It is also a moment to show what we are about."
With catering provided by the Transcorp Hilton, guests were treated to traditional Belgian food ranging from pasta, potatoes and beef cooked in various dishes.