Today is King’s Day or Koningsdag in The Netherlands. This is a celebration in honor of King Willem Alexander’s birthday. According to Wikipedia, this day was first celebrated as Princess Day in 1885 in honor of Princess Wilhelmina who would one day become queen. It used to be celebrated in August for Wilhelmina’s birthday (and of course was called Queen’s Day), but when her daughter ascended the throne it was moved to her birthday of April 30th. It remained on that date through both she and her daughter’s reign (because her daughter’s birthday was in January and who wants to be out on the streets celebrating then) and then was moved to the King’s birthday of April 27th in 2013 when he ascended the throne (so sensible of him to have a spring birthday).
Many people wear orange for King’s Day in honor of the ruling family being of the House of Orange-Nassau (that is the line that has been ruling The Netherlands for a long time) and orange decorations are everywhere.
There are also tons of Dutch flags being flown.
One of the biggest activities for King’s Day is the countrywide flea market. People bring out their unwanted belongings and sell them on the street. There are large flea markets in big cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but all the smaller cities and districts have them as well.
There are also lots of food and drink stalls, bands and music stands and activities for kids. In Amsterdam, there is a huge party and people go out in boats on the canals.
We decided to just stay in our district of Rotterdam, so the festivities are much smaller. We missed the flea market as we didn’t get out early enough in the day, but there were still games for kids, food stands and music. The most interesting kid’s activity that we saw was giant inflated balloons that kids were getting inside and floating on the canal in.
The kids also got to celebrate at school yesterday with breakfast and games provided by the King’s Day Foundation. All schools that sign up receive the food supplies for the breakfast as well as sports supplies for the games. The PTSA decorated the school in tons of orange and we had an orange-themed bake sale.
As an American who has never celebrated a king before or even really done much to honor the presidents, it feels strange to celebrate a royal, but it has been fun to get in the spirit of things. So, Happy Birthday to the King, Go Netherlands and we’ll see you next year at Koningsdag!