Belgium is an ancient and yet still young nation. Belgians were first mentioned about 2,000 years ago (by Julius Caesar in his book on the Gallic Wars). Nevertheless, Belgium was for centuries part of a larger state structure.
The independant State of Belgium was born on October 4, 1830. To learn more about Belgian national day, Keepincalendar put together everything you need to know.
Belgian National Day
Belgian National Day (Dutch: Belgische nationale feestdag; French: Fete nationale belge; German: Belgischer Nationalfeiertag) is the National Day of Belgium celebrated on 21 July each year. It is one of twelve public holidays in Belgium.
The festival’s establishment 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 Belgian 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.
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 traveled 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.
The day typically starts with a Catholic Te Deum service in the 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 stalled 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. There are also a variety of entertainments organized for the public, particularly in the city center.
In the evening, there is a large fireworks display in the Parc de Bruxelles. Smaller events occur in towns and cities across Belgium and in Belgian émigré communities abroad.