Luxembourg’s traditions: JANUARY

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a unique country due to its central position in the heart of Europe, has always been influenced by various cultures and countries. At the crossing point of French, German and Belgian cultures, introducing Italian and Portuguese customs, Luxembourg became a melting pot of traditions and languages.
Luxembourg’s traditions are indeed deeply anchored in rural life of yesteryear and can be assimilated with religious traditions. However the arrival of immigrants from various countries and the introduction of their cultures into Luxembourgish life styles have also diversified its customs. This multilingual, cosmopolite country has therefore incorporated a variety of foreign traditions into its cultural calendar. On the other hand, it is undeniable that centuries old customs are unfortunately slowly disappearing or are losing more and more of their importance in today’s lives.
Please look forward to a monthly article on Luxembourg’s traditions and customs, and learn how Luxembourgers cherish their ways of life and when you can experience Luxembourgish festival up close.

JANUARY (in Luxembourgish “Haartmount”)

Luxembourgers traditionally start the New Year with greeting family and friends and wishing them a happy and prosperous new year. On January 1, it is custom to tour family homes and have a little drink and snack with each of them in order to welcome the New Year, but also to cherish their company.

January is also the month when the Three Kings visit. Although in Italian and Spanish traditions children will be showered with presents on January 6, the Luxembourgish “Dräikinneksdag” (day of the three kings) will determine who will be crowned king or queen for the day.

A custom of Christian origin which celebrates the visit of the three wise kings, Balthasar, Melchior and Caspar to the baby Jesus, “Dräikinneksdag” or Feast of the Epiphany is traditionally celebrated by eating a pie filled with frangipane or apple sauce called “galette des rois” (meaning kings’ cake). Inside the galette, the baker has hidden a bean (fr. la fève) or another figurine and the person who finds this token in his or her piece will be crowned king or queen for the day. Originally, bakers hid a broad bean inside the cake, however with the time this tradition changed and beans were mostly replaced by figurines made of porcelain or plastic. Some of these figurines became very popular and some people are collecting specific figurines from a certain baker. Each galette comes with a paper crown, so the person who finds the token in his or her piece can be crowned. This tradition is especially loved by kids who often fight for the paper crown.