A postcard of “seconds”: this was the second postcard I’ve received from Belgium (the first was one received through Postcrossing back in September 2006; one of the few cards that I’ve since lost!) and the second of my cards in the very popular “Flags of the World” series published by Postcardsmarket.com. I wrote a brief account of the history of Belgium on my A Stamp A Day blog last September. Looking back on it now reminds me that I need to add maps, flags, and coat of arms to those earlier entries as it took some time for me to hit upon the idea; the article also seems rather short compared to some of my more recent entries!
At any rate, the sender of this particular card lives in Herentals, a city situated in the Province of Antwerp. The municipality comprises the city of Herentals proper and the towns of Morkhoven and Noorderwijk. On January 1, 2006, Herentals, had a total population of 26,071. The total area is 18.75 square miles (48.56 km²) which gives a population density of 537 inhabitants per square kilometer. Saint-Waldetrudis is the patron saint of the city.
Herentals is often referred to as the capital of the Belgian Campine region. It has some outstanding historical buildings, including the church, town hall and the old city gates — Bovenpoort, the Northern gate, and Zandpoort, the Western gate. There used to be a Nederpoort and Koeienpoort as well, but those have been torn down a long time ago. The Hidrodoe science museum is located in Herentals. There is also a large chocolate factory located in the city.
Herentals is twinned with Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire in France, Alpen in Germany and Ijsselstijn in the Netherlands. The inhabitants of the Campine region have common soubriquets that are particular to their towns; people from Herentals are referred to by the colloquialisms “Klokkenververs” (meaning “bell painters”) and “Peestekers” which comes from an old story about the farmers of the town using carrots (pekes, “pee”-stekers) as a lock on the “zandpoort”, one of the great gates in that time.
The national flag of Belgium is a tricolor of three bands of black, yellow, and red. The colors were taken from the coat of arms of the Duchy of Brabant, and the vertical design may be based on the flag of France. When flown, the black band is nearest the pole (at the hoist side). It has the unusual proportions of 13:15.
On August 26, 1830, the day after the rioting at the Brussels Opera and the start of the Belgian Revolution, the flag of France flew from the city hall of Brussels. The insurgents hastily replaced it with a tricolor of red, yellow and black horizontal stripes (similar to the one used during the Brabant Revolution of 1789-1790 which had established the United States of Belgium) made at a nearby fabric store. As a result, Article 193 of the Constitution of Belgium describes the colors of the Belgian nation as “red, yellow and black” instead of using the order shown in the official flag.
On January 23, 1831, the stripes changed from horizontal to vertical, and on October 12 the flag attained its modern form, with the black placed at the hoist side of the flag.
The official guide to protocol in Belgium states that the national flag measures 2.60 meters tall for each 3 meters of width, giving it a ratio of 13:15. Each of the stripes is one-third of the width of the flag. The yellow is in fact yellow and not the darker gold of the flag of Germany, which is a somewhat similar black-red-gold tricolor.