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The tradition of the Meyboom is based on a medieval legend. The Meyboom was first erected in Brussels in 1213 to celebrate a victory over the city of Leuven. Nowadays, it is a highly colourful parade, held every 9 August, in which a tree is brought to Brussels, featuring a brass band, giants and people dressed in folk dress. The erection of the Meyboom is recognised as an expression of intangible heritage by Unesco.

The victory over Leuven

The erection of the Meyboom is a tradition going back to 1213, when Brussels scored a major victory over its rival Leuven. There are several legends about the origin of the dispute (from a rocky marriage to a tax on beer). One thing is clear, however: Leuven lost and Brussels celebrated by erecting the Meyboom.

If the Meyboom is not up by 5 pm, the privilege passes to the people of Leuven. The Gardevils and the Buumdroegers do their utmost to protect the Meyboom against the lurking Leuven folk, who actually managed to escape with it in 1939. Fortunately, the good citizens of Brussels found a new one in time to save their honour.

So what happens?

The parade is held every year on 9 August, the day before St Laurent’s day. The Buumdroegers (who carry the Meyboom) choose a tree in the morning and, protected by the Gardevils, bring it to Rue des Sables, close to the Belgian Comic Strip CenterExternal link, passing through several taverns on the way.

The procession reaches its destination around 1:30 pm: the Buumdroegers carry the tree to Grand-Place, flanked by the companions of St Laurent, the brass band, the giants and their Poepedroegers, the cavaliers of the Wheel of Fortune and other folk groups. On Grand-Place the Meyboom is presented to the general public and to the great and the good of the city.

The procession then sets off towards the corner of Rue des Sables and Rue du Marais, where the tree has to be erected by 5 pm. If they succeed, the event is celebrated until dawn.

Find out more about the Meyboom