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    What is the St-V parade?

    November 20th is a special day in the hearts of VUB and ULB rebels. It’s a day called Saint V, a celebration of freedom of spirit and the founding of the university by Pierre-Theodore Verhaegen, or Saint V, in 1834. Interestingly enough he was never canonized and is not an actual saint, but secular values of the students mock the Saints of catholic universities and loudly own Brussels on that day.

    The event started in 1888, when students protested the reorganization of the university by getting together and leaving oak leaves on Verhaegen’s tomb. The tradition of visiting the tomb is still prevalent today, although is seen more as a formality. The day is more about students drinking in the streets and enjoying the city. Even when the city tried to cancel the parade after the Paris attacks in 2015, the students went on to celebrate the holy day.

    Beer and flowers

    The parade starts with students and administration paying respect to Pierre-Theodore Verhaegen by visiting his grave and laying flowers. They also pay honour to student victims of the nazi regime and the Spanish free thinker and education reformer Francisco Ferrer.

    12h00 is the start of the big party at Grand Sablon and at 16h00 students move to La Bourse to claim the city. The two locations play a big role in the sentiments of the parade: students mock the aristocrats and show solidarity to the poor as these districts historically connected the bourgeoise part of the town with poorer districts.

    The celebration is usually accompanied by music and a lot of beer. The students usually sing songs like “The song of no language” and chant about owning the city “Brussel is van ons, olé olé!” translated to “Brussels is ours, olé olé”. The students are very proud and unapologetically loud about their celebration. Even older alumni of the university join the procession to pay their regards and be a part of this great procession.

    Why you should join

    Even if you are not a fraternity member and didn’t know what Saint V was before, you should still join the celebration of freedom of inquiry, academic thinking and equality.
    You can see a lot of beer passed around and spilled (all-you-can-drink offered by some fraternities helps),  and hear the songs chanted by the students.
    Even Maneneken Pis will change his costume and become a fraternity member and at 13h00 he will be peeing beer to join the celebration.
    And because this is an official holiday for the two freethinking universities there are no classes scheduled, so no excuse not to join the fun.