Last modified: 2007-10-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: boom | tree | virgin | baby jesus |
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Municipal flag of Boom - Image by Jarig Bakker, 24 September 2001, coat of arms from the International Civic Heraldry website
The municipality of Boom (16,204 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 737 ha) is located 15 km south of Antwerp, on the river Rupel.
Boom means "a tree" in Dutch; Brouns Valere reports two legends explaining the name of the town.
According to the first legend, fishers used to put their nets in the Rupel from a very isolated place; a big tree brought by the stream got caught in the nets. The fishers retrieved the nets with the tree onto the bank. They attempted to saw the tree to make planks, to no avail. The wood was as hard as iron so that no tool could even cut into it. Someone had the idea to cut a statue of the Blessed Virgin from the tree, which was easily done. The planks could be cut, the statue was venerated and the fishers started to build wooden huts. The isolated place became a village, which was named Boom to recall its amazing origin.
The second legend claims that a tree might have grown between the towns of Rumst and Schelle, whose weird shape was known by everybody. Therefore, the tree was used by the travellers to find their way. The place and the neighborhood were named, after the tree, bij den boom (near the tree), aan den boom (at the tree), van den boom (of the tree), etc.. When the village grew up, it was named den boom (the tree) and eventually Boom.
The inhabitants of Boom are nicknamed hondenfretters (dogs' eaters), recalling the lack of meat supply during the First and Second World Wars.
Boom had once more than 150 brickyards. The last of them, the Lauwers brickyard, still produces the rustic Boom tiles, the Boom facade stones and other kinds of stones and bricks.
The movie La kermesse héroïque by Jacques Feyder (1935), after a story by Charles Spaak, takes place in Boom, or at least in the wonderful reconstitution (by Lazare Meerson, Alexandre Trauner and Georges Wakhévitch) of a small Flemish town a la Brueghel called Boom. During the Spanish rule, the town prepares its annual festival when the arrival of a Spanish ambassador and his armed troop is announced. All the men of the town, led by the Mayor, recalling the last episode of that kind, decide to pretend to be dead or to flee the town, but the women, led by the Mayor's wife (played by François Rosay, Feyder's wife), decide to welcome the ambassador and his chaplain (played by Louis Jouvet). The film was made in two versions, French and German. It was criticized in French and Belgium (and even forbidden in Bruges) as a tribute to submission if not to collaboration; ironically, Goebbels "read" it as an encouragement to civil resistance and censored it, too.
Ivan Sache, 26 May 2007
The municipal flag of Boom is vertically divided blue-white with the
municipal coat of arms, portraying the Blessed Virgin with Baby Jesus
in front of a tree, in canton.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 3 September 1997, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 17 November 1987 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 16 September 1988.
There is no explanation of the colours, which are, anyway, the traditional colours of the Blessed Virgin, who wears a starry blue cloak on the arms.
Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 26 May 2007