Belgian National Day (French: Fête nationale belge, Dutch: Belgische nationale feestdag, German: Belgischer Nationalfeiertag) is a National Day celebrated on 21 July each year. The festival dates to a law of 27 May 1890 and commemorates an event on 21 July 1831 in which Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg swore allegiance to the new constitution, thus becoming the first “King of the Belgians”. The king’s vow marked the start of the independent state of Belgium under a constitutional monarchy and parliament.
History of Belgian National Day
In 1830, drawing inspiration from the recent July Revolution in France, the southern provinces of the United Netherlands rebelled against Dutch rule after a period of growing economic and religious disparity and political alienation. The Dutch were forced out of much of the area and Belgium gained de facto independence. A National Congress was created to write a Constitution for the new state.
The Congress decided that the new country would be a constitutional monarchy (associated with political stability) rather than a republic, in order to reassure foreign governments and the Belgian middle class who associated republicanism with “mob rule” in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789. The Congress called upon Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha, a German nobleman, to be the first King of the Belgians on 4 June 1831.
Accepting the invitation, Leopold travelled to Brussels from England via Calais and De Panne by carriage. On 21 July, the temporary regent Erasme Louis Surlet de Chokier officially relinquished his position and Leopold was crowned King. In the ceremony, Leopold vowed to accept the Constitution drawn up by the National Congress, officially bringing it into force. The 21 July 1831, is therefore a date commonly used by historians to denote the end of the Belgian Revolution and the start of the Kingdom of Belgium.
World Heritage Site
A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Hertitage Site, it is the remarkable central square of Brussels and reflects a mixture of artistic and architectural styles.
Another World Heritage Site is the Historic Center of Brugge, which is the birthplace of the school of Flemish Primitive painting.
Events on Belgian National Day
The day typically starts with a Catholic Te Deum service in Cathedral of Brussels attended by the King and other dignitaries. In the afternoon, the Belgian Army and police are reviewed by the King, and parade past the Royal Palace and around the Parc de Bruxelles. There is a flypast by the airforce. The military, civil defense and emergency services and other government departments typically have stalls in the nearby Place Poelart, Rue de la Régence, Place Royale and surroundings which explain their roles to the public.
Many notable buildings in Brussels that are usually closed are also open to the public on National Day. A variety of entertainment is presented in several venues around the city, particularly in the city center. In the evening, a large fireworks display occurs in the Parc de Bruxelles.
Smaller events occur in towns and cities across Belgium and in Belgian émigré communities abroad.
We wish all Earth-loving Belgians a celebrative National Day.