The Leuven age set ritual repertoire
Intangible cultural heritage Flanders
Inscribed on UNESCO'S representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

updated : 26 juni 2012.

   First page.
   Age set?
   Association of age sets?.
   Visit the town hall cellars.
   Search a photo in the cellars.
   Search the flag of an age set.
   Show all the known pins.
   Search a sticker of an age set.
   Different costumes of Fonske.


   Overview town hall cellars.

   Film UNESCO.

External links.

   Site city Leuven.

   Other age sets (dutch).

Age set, what it is.

An age set (or in Dutch called a " jaartal ") is a group of men, all born in the same birth year. A new group starts every year at the age of 40 and are called together in the month of March. In most cases, the joining men don"t know each other and the first step is to learn each others qualities, points of interest ... ect. After some informal meetings in a pub, a president and all needed functions will be filled in by different persons of the group.

Once started the choice for a costume, flag, marraine (godmother), sticker, ... will be discussed. Also the possible activities will be put into question, because an moderate income must be gained so that the celebration of their 50th anniversary, can be done as planned. Some celebrate it in a moderated way, other groups even take a plane and visit some exotic place for their celebration. Apart from their own activities, there are the traditional activities where they will be asked to participate with the other age sets.

A list of these traditional activities :

  • New years reception.
  • A yearly cultural event
  • A Marrainen TD
  • A yearly one day trip organized bij the association of age sets.
  • The celebration of the age set getting 50 in the city park.
  • The yearly parade of age sets through the streets of Leuven.
  • Some other events organized by the association of age sets.

  • Participation on these events is not required but taking part, keeps the tradition ongoing.

    At the age of 40, the age set is started and they begin their 10 year long journey to reach their 50th anniversary. Every new group has the same remark, 10 years, such a long time. At the age of 50 the remark changed to : " where are those 10 years gone, time flies. ". Then they also, just like everybody else, become " Abraham". This name refers to a statue expressing the wisdom somebody gets at the age of 50. Once Abraham, they will quit the active scene because then the newer 10 year younger generation will take the lead.

    But this is not the end of the story. Most ages sets stay friends for life. Taking part of an age set, is a human enrichment and a social school for every member.