Last modified: 2008-03-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: moerbeke-waas | turnip | spades: 2 | waasland |
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Municipal flag of Moerbeke-Waas - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 22 November 2005
The municipality of Moerbeke-Waas (5,904 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,742 ha) is located 5 km south of the border with the Netherlands and 20 km west of Sint-Niklaas, the capital of Waasland.
Waasland includes the municipalities of Beveren, Kruibeke, Lokeren, Moerbeke-Waas, Sint-Gillis-Waas, Sint-Niklaas, Stekene, Temse and Waasmunster (all in the Province of East Flanders) and the municipality of Zwijndrecht (in the Province of Antwerp). It is bordered in the north by the Netherlands, in the east by the Scheldt, in the south by the Scheldt and the Durme and in the west by the Durme. Waasland was in the past a typical rural area with fields limited by willows. The origin of the name Waasland dates back to the Middle Dutch word wastin(n)e, meaning "desert land" (in modern Dutch, woestenij means "a deser"t). In the Middle Ages, Waasland was the northeastern corner of Flanders and was sparsely inhabited, being mostly covered by the so-called Koningsforeest (Royal Forest).
Reynaert de Vos (Reynaert the Fox) had most of its adventures in Waasland. Reynaert has a
bench in the municipal park of Moerbeke-Waas, decorated by Rik Van
Daele, Seppe Celie and Marc Fruytier. Two bicycle routes (fietsroutes)
around Moerbeke are called Isegrimroute and Canteclaerroute, referring
to the wolf Isegrim (Ysengrin in the French version of the Roman de
Renart) and the rooster Canteclaer (Chanteclair in the French version), respectively.
There are also two Reynaertroutes designed for cars.
Moerbeke is also famous for its sugar house.
Ivan Sache, 22 November 2005
The municipal flag of Moerbeke-Waas is green with the municipal coat of
arms in the middle.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 6 September 1984, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 December 1984 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.
Green symbolizes Waasland.
The municipal arms of Moerbeke-Waas are white with two spades crossed
in saltire below a turnip (locally called raap.
According to Servais, these arms were granted by (Dutch) Royal Decree in 1817 and confirmed by (Belgian) Royal Decree on 13 May 1842. They are based on the only known seal of the municipal council (XVIIIth century). The origin of the spades is unknown and the turnip is nothing but the famous turnip of Waasland, whose story is told by Servais as follows (quoting the translation from the International Civic Heraldry website):
Emperor Charles V once visited the city of Sint Niklaas and obviously a crowd gathered to see the emperor. Among these was a small farmer holding a huge turnip, which he wanted to hand to the emperor. The guards, however, prevented the farmer to reach the emperor. The emperor, however, noticed that something was happening and asked the farmer what he had in his hands. The farmer answered that he had a giant fruit and that he wanted to give it to the emperor. The emperor was intrigued and let the farmer pass the guards. The emperor accepted the turnip and awarded the farmer with a large purse.
Seeing the reward for a simple turnip, a local horsebreeder imagined the award he would fetch if he gave the emperor a good horse. So he offered the emperor a beautiful horse. The emperor responded, saying that for a beautiful horse, he would donate one of his precious possessions, and handed the breeder the turnip. Embarrassed the breeder had to accept the turnip, which ever since has been the symbol of the Waasland and its fertile soil.
The famous turnip is portrayed on the municipal flags of Lokeren, Sint-Gillis-Waas, Sint-Niklaas and Waasmunster.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat, Jarig Bakker, Jan Mertens & Ivan Sache, 24 November 2005