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Meyboom 2023

Every year, a tree is erected in the city to commemorate the victory of Brussels over the city of Leuven

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Meyboom is the oldest folklore tradition in the city. Since 1308, the event has become an annual tradition, but its roots date further back in history. There are dozens of city legends behind this event. The most popular claims that the tradition emerged to celebrate the victory of Brussels over the neighbouring city of Leuven in a fight over a beer tax in 1213. Today, the origins of the event are not that obvious as it serves mainly to honour and preserve medieval traditions and to bring citizens together. In 2008, the celebration became a UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The festivities take place on the 9th of August, the day before St. Lawrence's Day. In the morning, a group of people—the Buumdroegers—choose the Meyboom, a tree that is a key element of the event. Usually, it is a young beech, but the type of tree doesn’t matter. The Buumdroegers are accompanied by the guards—the Gardevils—and carry the tree through the city. The procession unites the companions of St. Lawrence, people in folk costumes, and even seven giants. They walk side-by-side to the sounds of the brass band.

When the parade reaches the Grand-Place, the Buumdroegers present the tree to the public and carry it further towards the corner of Rue des Sables and Rue du Marais. The Meyboom must be planted before 5 p.m. Otherwise, a curse is believed to fall over Brussels: the privilege to plant the Meyboom would be given to the people of Leuven.

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Last updated: by Olha Savych