Did you know that the little monkey of Mons brings good luck?
According to Mons folklore, stroking the head of the little monkey at the Town Hall brings good luck. This iron statue has been part of the life of the people of Mons for generations, but its origins remain a mystery to this day.
Firmly attached to the facade of the town hall, the little monkey, also known as the "monkey of the Grand Garde", is one of Mons' most emblematic symbols, along with the Doudou. It is a veritable tourist attraction, since this little primate apparently brings good luck to anyone who strokes its head with their left hand. His head is polished, having been constantly stroked by the inhabitants of the city and visiting tourists. When distinguished guests arrive in the city, they are invited to make this symbolic gesture. For example, Leopold III and Astrid of Sweden (Prince and Princess at the time) greeted the monkey on 8 July 1928.
Nobody knows the exact age of the monkey, or when he appeared on the facade of the town hall, which was built in the 15th century. However, it is likely that he was produced in the late Middle Ages. His origins are mysterious to say the least, but there are three hypotheses. Perhaps he is the masterpiece of an apprentice blacksmith hoping to become a master. Perhaps he was the sign from a tavern (closed in 1897) that was in the basement of the town hall. The third hypothesis is a little more sinister. The monkey may have been used as stocks where "disruptive" children were put, according to a regional Walloon saying: "If you don't behave, you'll go to the monkey of Mons!"
Nonetheless, the legend of the little monkey who brings good luck was created out of nothing in 1930 by a certain Paul Heupgen, a historian interested in the folklore of Mons. Ever since, the monkey has been the city's lucky charm, although the custom of stroking his head was already well established before that date.
The monkey of the Grand Garde is not the only Belgian statue to bring luck. The monument to Éverard t'Serclaes, a famous Brussels statue located next to the Grand Place, attracts many tourists who come to rub their hands on its surface (which is as smooth as the head of the little monkey).