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Belgium Independence Day – July 21, 2023

Belgian Independence Day is celebrated annually on July 21. It is one of Belgium’s 10 public holidays and commemorates the investiture of the country’s first monarch, King Leopold I, who took the constitutional oath in 1831. This day also celebrates the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands and the formal establishment of the Kingdom. It was decided that Belgium would become a constitutional and popular monarchy, reflecting the romantic nationalism that was popular at the time. The celebrations take place at the Place des Palais in Belgium.

History of Belgium Independence Day

Since 1815, Belgium had been part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The majority of the population were Roman Catholic and increasingly believed the rule of King William I favored the Northern Protestants. The discontentment was intensified by high levels of unemployment in the South. In August 1830, several riots took place, calling for Belgium to secede from the Netherlands.

After the independence on October 4, 1830, which was recognized by a London Conference of major European powers, the Belgian National Congress considered several candidates to become king, and after much debate, Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg was asked to become king of the newly-formed country. He accepted and was proclaimed “King of the Belgians” on June 26, 1831.

Leopold I sailed into France, from Dover to Calais, and was taken to the Belgian border village of De Panne on July 17, 1831. He traveled through the country, visiting Bruges and Ghent among others. Then on July 21, 1831, as he stood on the Place Royale in Brussels, he took the constitutional oath, accepting the role of the first king of the Belgians. This day became the Belgian national holiday. On this day, parks and venues across town hold concerts and other activities. The Parliament chambers, the central bank, and other institutions are open to the public. A large military parade takes place in Brussels, attracting over 100,000 spectators.

Belgium Independence Day timeline

1815
The United Kingdom of the Netherlands

Belgium becomes part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

1830
Belgian Independence is Recognized

Belgium's independence is recognized and congress considers several candidates to become king.

1831
Leopold I Becomes King

He takes the constitutional oath as the first king of the Belgians.

1890
A New Belgian National Day

The day is changed by law to July 21, to strengthen the association between its observance and the monarchy and constitutional order.

Belgium Independence Day FAQs

Is Belgium and the Netherlands the same?

No, they are different states. Whereas Belgium is a federal state, the Netherlands is a unitary state.

Why did Belgium split from the Netherlands?

A combination of factors, the main one being the difference in religion. Catholic in today’s Belgium; Protestant in today’s Netherlands.

Do Belgium and Germany have the same flag?

Even though both flags appear to be the same, they are very different. Belgium’s stripes are vertical, while Germany’s are horizontal.

How to Observe Belgium Independence Day

  1. You get a day off

    This national day is a public holiday in Belgium. The military parade is a typical element of celebration in Belgium, and a great opportunity to have fun. Not only is it a good plan to visit Belgium, but also to be there today.

  2. It’s a chance to celebrate culture

    You can prepare a typical Belgian meal and enjoy it with your loved ones. One of their popular foods is ‘sole meunière,’ a classic fish dish.

  3. A great fireworks display

    One of the Belgian traditions for this day is the display of fireworks at the Royal Palace. At the end of the celebration, colorful fireworks will fill the night sky.

5 Facts You Didn't Know About Belgium

  1. Belgium served beer at schools

    Until the 1970s, they served students an almost alcohol-free beer of 1% to 4% alcohol.

  2. The first country to introduce electronic I.D.s

    Belgium introduced electronic I.D. cards in March 2003.

  3. Three official languages

    They have Dutch, French, and German as official languages, influenced by the neighboring countries.

  4. Belgian chocolate

    Belgium produces 220,000 tons of chocolate a year, equivalent to 48 pounds per citizen.

  5. Belgium functioned without a government

    For 589 days between June 2010 and December 2011, nobody could form a working majority.

Why Belgium Independence Day is Important

  1. Belgium served beer at schools

    Until the 1970s, they served students an almost alcohol-free beer of 1% to 4% alcohol.

  2. The first country to introduce electronic I.D.s

    Belgium introduced electronic I.D. cards in March 2003.

  3. Three official languages

    They have Dutch, French, and German as official languages, influenced by the neighboring countries.

Belgium Independence Day dates

YearDateDay
2023July 21Friday
2024July 21Sunday
2025July 21Monday
2026July 21Tuesday
2027July 21Wednesday

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