Brotherhood of the Companions of Saint Laurence
The building on the corner of Avenue de Stalingrad/Stalingradlaan and Rue Rogier van der Weyden/Rogier van der Weydenstraat is home to the Brotherhood of the Companions of Saint Laurence, who since 1308 have had the privilege of planting the Meyboom (or ‘tree of joy’) on the corner of Rue des Sables/Zandstraat and Rue du Marais/Broekstraat every year on 9 August, the eve of the feast day of St Laurence. Tradition dictates that on this day, the merry Bûûmdroegers head into the Sonian Forest to cut down a tree, which they then parade through Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode/Sint-Joost-ten-Node before presenting it on the Grand-Place/Grote Markt and planting it. However, the Companions of Saint Laurence also feature in various other colourful processions involving the giants who are currently associated with the Meyboom. For instance, their marchante figuren took part in the procession organised by the city to mark the marriage of Emperor Napoleon and Marie Louise of Austria in 1810. The giants also escorted the Meyboom on the eve of the outbreak of the First World War. Over the years, Meeke, resplendent in yellow and red with a blue apron, and baby Janneke were joined by Boma and Bompa in their blue smocks, then by red-clad Rooske, by Jefke, who is clothed in Belgium’s national colours, and by rural policeman Pitje. UNESCO recognised the giants as intangible heritage in 2005.
The exhibition A large, colourful life showcases various artefacts associated with the Meyboom.
sign-languageGuided tours in sign language in French, Sat. at 11:00 and Sun. at 14:00. In cooperation with Arts & Culture.