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corner of the Rue du Marais and the Rue des Sables, Brussels, Belgium

Meyboom Brussels Reviews

Adrian_Liston Adrian_L…
156 reviews
Meyboom Aug 09, 2009
The plantation of the Meyboom has occurred on the 9th of August ever year on the corner of the Rue du Marais and the Rue des Sables for over 700 years, since 1308.

There are many different variants of the folklore behind the event. This is one version:

In 1213, the Duke of Brabant was getting married when the marriage was marred by an attack from Gent. The Companions of Saint-Lawrence, part of the Guild of Crossbowmen in Brussels, came to the rescue with the aid of some soldiers from Leuven. In gratitude, the Duke granted the Companions to chop a Meyboom (May pole) from Soignes Wood every year and plant it in Brussels.

The Duke added one more important proviso - if Brussels ever failed to plant the Meyboom before 5pm on August the 9th, the right would go to Leuven. The leadup includes events in Leuven, but the 'gardevils' are always wary of the Leuvenites, protecting the 'buumdroegers' (who carry the tree) and the 'poepedroegers' (who carry the giants, official witnesses of the tree raising). In 1939 Louvan managed to steal the tree, and now they claim the right to raise the Meyboom is theirs. Brussels claims that they managed to chop another tree and raise it before 5pm so they are keeping up the tradition.

As Belgian festivals go, this one was actually a bit of a let down. The district where it has to be held (Rue du Marais) was demolished about 50 years ago for sterile office buildings, so the genuine cheer of the festival doesn't appear to have the right settings. Still it is a fun event and most people seem to go to the Grand Place to watch the parade in a fitting location rather than to Rue du Marais to watch the finale.

Meyboom is always held on the 9th of August. The procession starts at the Rue du Marais at 2 pm and goes towards the Grand-Place, it then returns before 5 pm to the corner of the Rue des Sables and the Rue du Marais to plant the tree.

The route of the parade (see map in the photo section):

rue du Marais, rue Fossée aux Loups, place de la Monnaie, rue des Fripiers, rue de Tabora, Bourse, rue du Midi, rue du Lombard, rue de l'Amigo, City Hall, Grand-Place, rue des Harengs, Marché aux Herbes, rue de Tabora, rue des Fripiers, rue de l'Ecuyer, rue du Marais, rue des Comédiens, rue Saint-Laurent, rue des Sables.
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photo by: Vlindeke