The Meyboom (= a tree)

Symbol of young awaking live and growth must be planted traditionally on 9 August, the eve of St. Lawrence and this before 17:00. The festival is based upon a seven centuries old tradition, supported by several legends and reminds to a victory of Brussels on Leuven or according to others to a ceremony where a nobleman from Leuven married a little girl from the Bass Fond district in Brussels. He gave money to celebrate St. Lawrence day and to plant a Meyboom. The legend which is presented both in Brussels and in Leuven, sounds however differently. On a day in 1213 a honeymoon took place in an inn in Brussels. During the celebration the invitees noticed a gang of troublemakers from Leuven.

It came to a fight and the men from Brussels threatened to be defeated by the men from Leuven till they were suddenly assisted by the companions of St. Lawrence. The men of Leuven lost and John II, duke of Brabant, gave the companions the admission to plant the Meyboom annually on 9 August. This privilege would expire if the men from Leuven could make themselves master of the tree and plant it in Leuven before 17:00. Although the legend is situated in 1213, only in 1308 this became an annual recurring event. In 2011 there will be the 703th planting of the Meyboom; the 38th in Leuven since 1974. This means that Brussels up till present has had only 665 official plantings as since 1974 Brussels has lost their privilege to plant the Meyboom.

The men of 1929 decided in 1974 to take away this privilege from Brussels and to bring the only real Meyboom to Leuven. Disguised as journalists they found out which tree had been selected by the men of Brussels for the planting. At night they went to Brussels and chopped the tree and took it with them to Leuven. On the stump they left a note: 'Men of Brussels here your tree has stood, the men of Leuven went along with it'. On 9 August 1974 the Meyboom was planted before 17:00 on the Grand Market in Leuven. The inhabitants of Brussels didn't bother much of this incident and selected another tree and continued with the planting of their tree. Both cities claim now that they have the privilege to plant the 'real' Meyboom.

The type of tree has no importance for Brussels; in Leuven they choose the silver birch because it remains longer green. The tree is already taken away in Brussels the next day; in Leuven it stays there however up till after the second Sunday of the month of September, the jubilee day of the 'Vriendenkringen Mannen van het Jaar' and "Het Verbond der Jaartallen". In Leuven the 'Vriendenkringen Mannen van het Jaar' continue the tradition, more specifically within block 9. After the year 1929, the years 1939, 1949, 1959 and 1969 followed. In 2020, the torch was taken over by the men of 1979, the men from block 9 and the Leuvense Meyboom companions: they are the current LEUVENSE MEYBOOMPLANTERS. They plant the Meyboom.

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