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Brussels celebrates 715th planting of Meyboom

23:02 10/08/2023

Brussels residents have this week celebrated the planting of the 715th Meyboom, which some consider to be the oldest tradition in Belgium, dating back to 1213.

The celebration includes a procession through the streets of the capital that features various folk groups and a brass band.

A tree is then planted at the intersection of the Rue des Sables and the Rue du Marais.

According to legend, it was in 1213 that a dispute over taxes on beer broke out between the inhabitants of Brussels and those of Leuven, the Louvanists, who were jealous of the drinking establishments to the north of the capital and decided to attack a wedding, only to be beaten back.

Duke Jean de Brabant then granted the victors the honour of planting the Meyboom on 9 August, the eve of Saint Lawrence's Day, on one condition - the tree had to be planted before 17.00. Otherwise, the Louvanistes would become the new holders of the privilege.

The celebration has been recognised as part of Unesco's oral and intangible heritage of humanity since 2008. Since 1974, when the Meyboom was stolen from Brussels and brought to Leuven in a friendly display of humour, both cities have claimed to be planting the "real" Meyboom.

After the tree processed through the various communes of Brussels, members of the Compagnons de Saint-Laurent brotherhood and various folklore societies gathered at the corner of Rue des Sables and Rue du Marais to pay tribute to deceased members.

The tree was then presented to crowds at the Grand Place before finally being planted at its rightful corner in time to meet the ancient tradition’s requirements.

Written by Helen Lyons