Saturday, May 1, 2010


Koninginnedag or Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands and is celebrated on 30th April every year. Queen's Day actually celebrates the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands, however Queen Beatrix birthday is not on 30th April. It is actually her mother's (Queen Juliana) birthday. When Queen Beatrix succeeded her mother Queen Juliana in 1980, she decided to celebrate her official birthday on 30th April as a tribute to her mother and also for the very reason that her own birthday on 31st January prohibits outdoor festivities.

Most countries with royalty celebrate their monarch's birthday with pomp and ceremony, but not the Dutch. They, in contrast , hold a giant open-air market or vrijmarkt (freemarket). Vrijmarkt is very much similar to the car boot sale or flea market. It is the only day that ordinary folk are allowed to set up shop on the sidewalk without the trading license. As a result you will see every inch of the pavement in the city, town and village in the country is taken up with people squatting on rugs and plastics selling mostly useless but strangely intriguing bric-a-brac. In some cities like Amsterdam, some areas has been reserved for only children to set up stalls and activities (no adult allowed to sell at all). And all the while, semi professional and terrible amature bands blast out what passes as music from just about every corner of the street.

Queen's Day is also the typical occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour of orange is a common sight. Orange is actually the name of the Dutch royal family, commonly referred as the House of Orange. On this day the Dutch will wear an extreme amount of orange clothing and also creative orange accessories. There are orange hats, orange banners, orange ballons, orange food and drinks.

What is interesting is that on this day, the Queen and her family shall visit one (sometimes more than one) area of the country. The family will visit the stalls and meet the people. Her children casually take off their blazers and join the locals in their games and activities. This royal activity was started in 1980 by Queen Beatrix when she succeeded her mother. This way, the people of the Netherlands get the opportunity to view the Royals upclose.

Lang zal ze leven !!!


Cheqna said...

oh now i know why d country's footballers wear orange t-shirts..

hahaha...that's my 1st thot when u mentioned the origin of orange..

its a good tradition eh?


I amsterdam said...

Yeah Cheqna, that is why the footballers and the supporters wear orange jersey. Remember Eurocup 2008, there was a sea of orange whenever Holland played.

Initially, I thought it was quite funny for a European country to wear orange, such a bright colour. But now that I know the history, it makes sense. So patriotic isn't it?

Cheqna said...

ye lah patriotik..

mmm...may be i should wear yellow n black per the Thomas Cup team in support of next week's Badminton competition...(i assumed still d same tiger stripes..hehe)

but i know i wont watch it "live"...debar je lebih..haha..


I amsterdam said...

Cheqna, masih yellow & black ke? Kita sendiri pun tak sure... I pun tak boleh tengok "live", tak tahan.. suspense!!!


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