Did you know that today is the Belgian national holiday? This one really caught me off guard. After the quick succession of Canada Day, Independence Day and Bastille Day, I just wasn't expecting yet another fête nationale in need of celebrating. Thankfully, an article in the local free daily tipped me off with its list of best DC places to drink beer, eat frites and crack open some mussels all in celebration of the 21st of July.
What exactly are the Belgians commemorating today? No, it's not the signing of an eloquently written document, or the crazed storming of a prison. They mark July 21st because on that day in 1831, in the city of Brussels, Leopold I swore allegiance to the constitution. Known as the first King of the Belgians, he reigned for 34 years, leaving the crown upon his death on December 10th, 1865. The current King of the Belgians is Albert II. It makes me wonder: will Belgium ever overthrow its monarchy in dramatic fashion, an act that could have the power to create an entirely new holiday? If so, maybe they'll select a time of the year other than July in which to enact their plan. The seventh month is starting to feel a bit overbooked.