Religious Beliefs. Wallonia is an area of dying Catholicism. Many parish churches have had to close owing to a lack of attendance. Communion, confession, baptism, and Religious marriages are all on the decline. Many older people may attend church only occasionally, but keep statues of the Virgin Mary in their windows. Lourdes in southwestern France is a popular place of pilgrimage. Beauraing and Banneaux are the two most popular places of pilgrimage in Wallonia. Several saints' processions have been revived in recent times, though often because of an interest in folkloric practices rather than renewed religious faith. Some of these even include religious reversals, such as a fake priest handing out slices of cucumber instead of hosts. The immigrants from southern Europe are usually more observant of Catholic Rituals than the Walloons. The immigrants from North Africa and Turkey are beginning to call for more support of the Islamic religion. Wallonia is also the home of small numbers of Protestants, Jews, Russian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox.
Religious Practitioners. Wallonia used to have several monasteries that produced an important number of clergymen. Today, very few boys choose a religious career.
Ceremonies. Baptisms, first communions, and marriages are rites of passage marked by celebrations. Many nonreligious Walloons have begun celebrating laic communions for their children. Carnival has numerous faces around Wallonia. Generally, an entire village dons identical costumes. Most famous among these is the Carnival of Binche.
Arts. Belgium has been known for her painters since the late Middle Ages. While many of the most famous painters were Flemish, Walloons were represented as well. Wallonia is perhaps better known for its contributions to modern art by the surrealists René Magritte and Alfred Delvaux. There have been several internationally known Walloon writers. Probably the best-known in the United States is Georges Simenon, the mystery writer and creator of Maigret. Folk arts are alive and well in Wallonia, with numerous processions of giants, mock military marches, and a thriving rod-puppet theater.
Medicine. There are 2.1 doctors per thousand Wallonians, and 4.77 hospital beds. Medical care is subsidized by the state.
Death and Afterlife. The devil is a popular figure in Walloon folklore, and belief in an afterlife is probably still fairly strong. Funerals vary from open casket to cremation. Friends of the deceased usually give speeches honoring him or her at the funeral. All Saints' Day, at which time spirits are thought to return to the earth, occurs on 4 November. On this day, many families go to the cemetery and clean the tombs of their ancestors.