Koninginnedag - The Queen's Day in The Netherlands
Every year on 30th April, the whole Netherlands is plunged into a orange sea; it is a day of celebration of Queen's birthday (Koninginnedag). Well, Queen Beatrix was actually born on 31st of January, but the celebrations are rescheduled on purpose to increase the possibility of nice wheater. The last day of April is therefore a unique opportunity to have a proper fun in the streets for otherwise decent Dutch people.
This year’s celebrations are even more intensive than other years. The day is also related to abdications of the current Queen Beatrix and a subsequent inauguration of her son Willem-Alexander. For some time it is the last Queen's day. From next year on King’s day is going to be celebrated (on 26th April, which is the official date of the king’s birthday.) (By the way, Queen Beatrix was sitting on the throne from 1980. But interestingly enough, the uninterrupted reign of queens goes actually as far to the past as 1890 (Wilhelmina 1890-1948 and Juliana 1948-1980). The Netherlands has a king after more than 120 years. And surprisingly, Willem-Alexander has three daughters.)
The celebration itself has usually very simple scenario: dress up orange clothes, pin on a Dutch flag and set off to get drunk in the streets. The boat rides are especially popular (more than ussually); on the canals in Amsterdam, there is a regular boat-traffic jam. Those who do not celebrate right in the city streets, organize a party at home or at least a small barbecue with friends.
When I asked my Dutch colleagues about their Tuesday plans, they answered they are definitely not going downtown, as it is going to be incredibly crowded. On the other hand, nearly all my Expat friends were about to take part in the most wild celebrations right in the city center. And even though I am not a fan of crowds, also I had the feeling, that it is worth seeing and experiencing.
However, I did not plan to drink and I knew, that if I joined the group of friends, who were already equipped with Grolsch and Jamaican rum, I would feel completely inappropriate with them after a short while, staying sober. Therefore I went to the city on my own, making a two-hours walking circle, passing around the central crowds on Dam Square, but reaching Museumplein and Leidseplein, which are actually pretty close to Dam anyway.
There was no point to bike on that day. Originally I was thinking about approaching the center with bike and then park it somewhere in the streets, but in the end I was glad I did not do that. The currents of people started to emerge already some hundred meters behind our front door. The whole Middenweg turned into a huge flea market. Actually the whole Amsterdam and even the whole Netherlands was one vast flea market on Tuesday. People took out blankets and garden chairs and sat in front of their houses to sell things they wanted to get rid of. I bought myself two pairs of fancy earrings for the total of two Euros.
I reached Vondelpark on foot and during the walk I observed the people in the streets and absorbed the orange atmosphere. It was a parade of furious people, who were having a rollicking time. I was just wondering how would the city manage the tons of plastic cups and other garbage on the streets. After the New Year’s Eve, the mess was left over for couple of days. The most interesting part was actually to observe the celebrating Dutchies. The nation of diligent people with the organized agenda’s and regular afternoon sports turned into a crowd of lunatics. Thanks’ God it is only one day in a year.
P.S. By the way, did you know, why orange is the colour number one in the Netherlands (after all the Dutch flag consists of a regular tricolor of red, blue and white). Well, it has to do with the royal dynasty, namely with the Dynasty of Oranjes and particularly with this man: Willem van Oranje.
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