The Arrival of King’s Day

Koninginnedag DomtorenSo, the inaugural King’s Day (Koningsdag) celebrations are beginning, as stages and oceans of beer are being put in place across the country. It’s the first time there’s been a King’s Day; it has always been Queen’s Day since the holiday’s inception. However, after Beatrix stepped down last year and Willem-Alexander ascended the throne, we now have a king for the first time in more than 100 years.

It turns out there’s an Utrecht link to the holiday. It was an Utrecht newspaper editor who first organized Princess Day for Wilhelmina in 1885, as a celebration of her fifth birthday. The celebration eventually evolved into Queen’s Day once she succeeded her father, King Willem III in 1890.

Originally, Queen’s Day was celebrated in August, the month of Wilhelmina’s birth. When her daughter, Juliana, took the throne, it then moved to her birth date, 30 April. When Juliana’s daughter, Beatrix, took the throne, she decided to keep the April celebration date, since the weather is much nicer than her birth month of January. Willem-Alexander’s birthday is 27 April, which is when King’s Day will usually be celebrated. However, since the 27th is a Sunday this year, they decided to move the celebration to the 26th. Next year it will be on the 27th. I kind of wish he’d just kept the 30 April date to avoid confusion. Now it’s starting to feel a bit like trying to figure out when Easter is!

The party actually starts tonight with King’s Night festivities that usually include bands playing outdoors throughout the city, with plenty of covers of Golden Earring songs and Shocking Blue’s “Venus” (both are Dutch bands, if you didn’t know). The vrijmarkt also starts tonight at 18:00 (6 PM), in which the northern part of the city center becomes a massive flea market. Lots of people like to go early to find the best items, before everything gets picked over. It’s particularly useful if you’re looking for a specific item.

Tomorrow, which is the official King’s Day, will see more of the same, with lots of parties across the country. Throughout it all, there will be more orange than you’ve ever seen in your life, as the Dutch royal family is part of the Orange-Nassau family. BoatsMore OrangeKoninginnedagBand
Janskerkhof

A Queen’s Day Pause

Bea Bedankt
Every year — for as we’ve been here, anyway — this historic building/store on the Oudegracht hangs a photo of Queen Beatrix every Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). Somehow, I’ve always missed getting a photo of the picture until this year. It’s a good thing I got it this year, since it’s the last year Beatrix’s photo will be on display.

Today is the last full day she’ll be queen. Tomorrow morning, she officially abdicates and her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander will become king. From then on, I assume the building will hang a photo of King Willem for King’s Day. And yes, there will be a King’s Day in the future. The republican/anti-monarchy groups seem relatively small and low key — I only saw one anti-monarchy sign at the Vrede van Utrecht celebration the other week — but I think the group would grow if we no longer had Queen’s Day or King’s Day, a national holiday.

Queen’s Day is tomorrow, but it begins this evening (Koninginnenacht). The vrijmarkt opens in the afternoon and will be followed by a variety of bands playing at podiums throughout the city. The vrijmarkt — held in cities across the country — is essentially a massive yard sale. A large chunk of the northern part of town is designated for people to set out their wares/cast-offs for sale.

Usually on the actual Queen’s Day, the royal family goes to a different city/region each year and takes part in special festivities. As well as walking through the city/town and shaking hands and waving, they usually take part in various games and watch special performances put on by local groups. It’s kind of nice seeing them all getting involved and having fun, riding small ziplines and tossing toilets.

This year, however, the family will be in Amsterdam where the queen will officially abdicate at 10 a.m. at the Royal Palace. Willem-Alexander will go through the official swearing in and investiture at the Nieuwe Kerk at 2 p.m. The process is a little different than the British monarchy. You can read more about it in an interesting article here, which gives a bit more about the roles of the Dutch monarchy and info about the background of the family.

The events will be televised, of course, but if you don’t want to stay home and watch, you can engage in a bit of gezelligheid and join crowds at locations throughout Utrecht (and other cities) to watch on big screens that have been set up. Here in Utrecht, they will be at Neude, Janskerkhof, and the Stadhuisplein.

NOS will be broadcasting and including live streams, I think, for those outside the country who also want to watch. For the full schedule of the events, the royal website has a fairly detailed listing of who is in attendance and when various events will take place. For a listing of the numerous activities going on here in Utrecht, De Utrechtse Internet Courant has a good writeup.

There will, of course, be orange everywhere. I’m already wearing my new orange T-shirt. Hats, inflatable crowns, orange clothing of all sorts will be out in full force. Sometimes I think the sheer volume of orange on Queen’s Day could possibly even be seen from space as a faint orange hue.

Hopefully all goes smoothly tomorrow and everyone has a good time. It will be the first time since 1890 that the Netherland’s has had a king. Of course, Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima have three daughters, so Queen’s Day is just taking a short break and will be back with the next generation.

Royals and Trajectum Lumen

Big Mouth Strikes Again

Orange Scream
This bit of orange wall art is on Wittevrouwenkade. I think it’s a part of a youth shelter/outreach program there. I did know once upon a time, but to be honest I’ve forgotten the exact details and my GoogleFu doesn’t seem to be too strong today, as I’m not turning up any further information. Regardless, it’s a fun pop of color in a somewhat secluded spot, especially when all the trees are in full leaf, hiding this little corner.

Oranje Update

Hup Holland Hup
Goodness! I’ve gone two whole posts without anything World Cup related! (I’m sure some of you enjoyed the respite.) Some people found my blog yesterday after searching for photos of Dutch fans, so I figure I might as well make some people happy! During halftime of the Netherlands-Japan match yesterday, we took Pippo out for a break and I snapped a few shots of the large orange crowds at the various cafés and bars in the neighborhood. The orange pennants were a surprise to me, since they hadn’t been up when we went out earlier that morning for groceries. Also a surprise was the temperature. It was downright cold! It’s winter in the southern hemisphere where the games are taking place, not here! I was wearing my orange scarf, both for team support and for warmth!

I do love seeing all the orange and the fun ways people dress up to show their support for the Dutch team. It seems to be working, since Holland won their match 1-0 against Japan. Unless something drastic happens, we should be through to the next round now. Hup Holland Hup! With that thought, I’ll leave you with a few more shots of the Dutch supporters and the decorations around the neighborhood. FYI, the lion is the symbol of the Dutch team.
Dutch Fans
Oranje Everywhere
Neighborhood
Half Time
Dutch Spirit
Welpie and Vuvuzela [Day 167/365]

Viva Hollandia!

Today is the Netherlands’ first match of the World Cup. We’ll be playing against Denmark this afternoon. Seemingly half the country is either taking the day off work to watch the match, or they’ll be watching at work. Basically, if you’re trying to get in touch with anyone in the Netherlands today between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. CET, don’t bother. Sure, there are a handful of people not interested, but they probably won’t be able to hear past all the cheering and yelling anyway.

Viva Hollandia by Wolter Kroes is an older song, but it’s still gotten a lot of play recently. It’s timeless, I suppose! In fact, I could hear it being played somewhere last night as I was trying to go to sleep, so I ended up with the song in my head when I woke up this morning. I figured I might as well share it with you all. Most likely, we’ll hear it again today when we head to the Potdeksel to watch the game — if we get seats. The Potdeksel isn’t usually open on Mondays, but they’re opening early for today’s match. I think just about any bar and restaurant with a tv will be open today and showing the match. For those without access to a tv, but with internet, NOS, the Dutch channel showing the game, is going to be pumping out 120,000 live streams of the match. Internet might be a bit slow this afternoon as a result.

Let the real games begin! Wear some orange today and cheer on the Dutch team. Hup Holland Hup!

Click here if the embeded video doesn’t work or show up.

World Cup Fever

Hup Holland Hup [Day 154/365]
The World Cup starts this Friday! The Netherlands is slowly turning orange as everyone starts decorating for the festivities. Shops, cafés, houses … Everyone is getting into the spirit and showing their orange. This is one of the window displays at a café on Voorstraat. It’s the same place that had the cute bunny display at Easter. I’ve yet to go inside the café, but I always enjoy their window displays.

I have a handful of countries I cheer for at the World Cup, with varying degrees of success. I can’t help but cheer for the US, of course, but I never expect them to do particularly well. Still, they’ve improved over the years, so hopefully they’ll have a decent showing this year. Because of family, I also cheer for England/Scotland (on the rare occasion Scotland makes it to the WC). I’ve been a fan of Italy for a while now, even before meeting my boyfriend. I started cheering for them in the ’94 WC (poor Baggio!). Italy is the current reigning WC champion, but I don’t see them doing well this year at all. Lippi has made some lousy choices. Fortunately, Holland has a good team this year, at least in theory. They’ve got some excellent players like Robben (please let the hamstring injury not be an issue!), Sneijder, and Van Persie, just to name a few. I’d love to see Holland go far in the tournament, even better if they finally win!

It was quite the party here two years ago for the European Cup, so I can only imagine what it will be like for the World Cup! I can’t wait! Hup Holland Hup!
Waiting for the World Cup

World Blog Surf Day Goes Orange

world-map-logo-final-150px-ORThe theme of this third annual World Blog Surf Day is Holidays and Celebrations, in which expats from around the world write on the same theme, exploring some of the new holidays and traditions they (we) have been exposed to in our new countries. At first I was a bit lost on what to write about, since the Netherlands isn’t exactly drastically different from the US. Sure, I could write about Sinterklaas on December 5, but I felt like I would have to address the whole issue of Zwarte Piet, but I’ve yet to be able to put my thoughts on it into words without contradicting myself somewhere along the line. Fortunately, Giovanni came to the rescue with the quite obvious and fantastic suggestion of writing about Koninginnedag, otherwise known as Queen’s Day.

Geen Vrijmarkt
Koninginnedag is held April 30 each year and has become a national holiday. The origins of the day, however, go back to August 31, 1885. It started as a celebration of the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, and was known as Prinsessedag until her coronation in 1890. When Queen Wilhelmina’s daughter, Queen Juliana, took the thrown, the date of the celebration changed to her birthday, April 30. When our current queen, Queen Beatrix, took the throne, she decided to keep Koninginnedag celebrations on April 30, both as a tribute to her mother and as a sensible move since the weather is much better than on her own birthday of January 31.

Besides the sea of orange that overtakes the country — the Dutch royal family comes from the House of Orange — the most traditional form of celebration is the vrijmarkt, essentially citywide flea markets. Whole sections of towns are taken over by stalls of all sorts, ranging from full set-ups to blankets on the ground, as people sell their various odds and ends. Most are normal household items, although a few people take the opportunity to sell various arts and crafts. There are also food stalls of all sorts set up amid all of the household bits and pieces. Here in the Utrecht city center, the whole northern section of the city was given over to the vrijmarkt.
Browser's Paradise

More Orange
The whole day is one of festivities and fun, with many people taking their boats out to sail along the canals with friends, often greeting and meeting up with other boaters along the way. Some of the boats themselves take on new forms as adventurous people strap together multiple boats and pile on sofas and stereos to make the most of the outing!

This was my first Koninginnedag, as we moved here last year just after the celebration. We had heard all about it — including the Koninginnenacht celebrations at the bars the night before — and were looking forward to taking part in the festivities. A friend of mine from the US happened to be in town, as well, so things were looking to be quite exciting. In fact, it was all quite exciting, but not always in such a good way. Koninginnedag 2009 was sadly marred by an attempted attack on the royal family as they were heading to the palace in Apeldorn. After a morning spent meeting people and taking part in various fun and games, as is the family’s tradition, they were headed by bus to the Het Loo palace when suddenly a car came out of nowhere, running over people in the crowd, before crashing into a nearby monument. The royal family was unharmed, but sadly eight people lost their life. My friend and I happened to be watching the tv coverage of the royal family’s outing that morning before heading out — it has been broadcast since the 1950s — and so we saw the attack in real time and were left confused and then horrified by it.

Many of the public festivities were cancelled, obviously, although the vrijmarkt continued, as did many private celebrations. In fact, many people didn’t know about the tragedy until much later in the day. My friend and I did visit the vrijmarkt that afternoon and enjoyed the experience; I even bought a few odds and ends, including a Queen Wilhelmina mints tin. Still, the tragedy of the morning lingered in my mind. Hardly an auspicious introduction to what should be a joyful day of fun and friends.

When I decided to write about Queen’s Day, I couldn’t decide if I should mention the dark side of this year’s event. Yet, considering it’s been my only Queen’s Day, I suppose it’s almost impossible for me to write about this new holiday without mentioning it. Ultimately, I still had a wonderful time, meeting up with lots of friends the night before, making fond memories that help to counteract the not-so-fond memories. There was also a lot of happiness and friendliness as we wandered the vrijmarkt that afternoon. Fortunately, I also have many more Queen’s Days to come. Who knows, within a few years I might be selling some of our odds and ends on a blanket some April 30! But not my peppermints tin. I’m keeping that one.
Royal Mints

Don’t forget to visit Lily over at Fat Bride Slim for the next installment of the Expat World Blog Surf Day!

The event is also being covered on Twitter by Karen of Empty Nest Expat. Karen is an American expat blogger last seen in Prague. The Wall Street Journal said, “Her blog makes a fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing–and also for anyone interested in visiting the Czech Republic.”

Come Visit!

As I mentioned before, I was busy a couple of weeks ago, preparing the guest room by giving it a fresh coat of paint. As you can see from the before picture, the walls/ceiling were a light yellow, with the door, beams and built-in bench all a light shade of purple. A cheerful room, but a bit dingy after all these years.
Guest Room

Still loving the orange that we used in the living room, I decided to paint the room white and replace the purple with orange. It’s bright, sunny and gezellig! Plus, I figure the dark denim blue of the sofa bed works fairly well with the colors. I had bought the fabric for the curtain with this color scheme in mind, although now I’m thinking of possibly making different curtains, since we need to be able to do something with the side window. But for now, this is how it looks. Don’t you want to come for a visit?
Cheerful