On the Chocolate Trail

Got Gelt?

In early December of 2006, my husband Mark and I discovered the roots of chocolate Chanukah gelt. That winter we drove a rental car from Brussels to Liege, Belgium, searching for a chocolate museum in the nearby town of Eupen. As we descended the hilly road that took us into downtown Liege to our hotel, we stopped at a red light where several young adults wearing plasticy, white coats covered with hand writing in many colors of marking pen, surprisingly approached the car window with cups in their hands. They said a few words in Flemish, shrugged and walked away. We had no idea what they said nor what they wanted, but we were in Europe so we were, perhaps mistakenly, not frightened. Later that night we walked in the city centre where we were greeted repeatedly by similar groups, again wearing the white coats, again shaking the cups. This time we noticed coins in the cups. Perplexed about what was going on, we inquired about this at the Tourist Office the next day. The attendant patiently explained that we had arrived during the feast of St. Nicolas, December 6, when college students customarily roam the streets begging gifts of coins which they use to buy beer for partying in celebration of the holiday.

students soliciting money for drinks

…more to come.

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On the Chocolate Trail

On the Chocolate Trail