King's Birthday in the Netherlands
King's Birthday, also known as Koningsdag in Dutch, is a national holiday in the Netherlands that celebrates the birth of the reigning Dutch monarch, currently King Willem-Alexander. This festive event is observed annually on April 27th. However, if this date falls on a Sunday, the celebration is moved to the preceding Saturday, which would be April 26th.
The origin of King's Birthday dates back to 1885 when the Dutch celebrated the first official "Prinsessedag" (Princess's Day) in honor of Princess Wilhelmina's fifth birthday. When Wilhelmina became queen in 1890, the event was renamed "Koninginnedag" (Queen's Day) and was celebrated on her birthday, August 31st. The tradition continued with Queen Juliana, and the date was changed to April 30th to coincide with her birthday. When Queen Beatrix ascended the throne in 1980, she decided to keep Queen's Day on April 30th out of deference to her mother, despite her own birthday being on January 31st. Following the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the accession of King Willem-Alexander in 2013, the holiday became known as King's Day and was moved to April 27th, the king's birthday.
National customs for King's Birthday in the Netherlands
King's Birthday is a day of national pride and unity in the Netherlands. The celebration is marked by various activities and events throughout the country. One of the most notable customs is wearing orange clothing and accessories, as the color symbolizes the Dutch Royal Family, who belong to the House of Orange-Nassau. This tradition has earned the nickname "Oranjegekte" (Orange Craze).
On King's Day, people of all ages participate in outdoor activities, such as games, sports, and live music performances. In addition, major cities host "vrijmarkten" (free markets), where citizens can sell their second-hand items or homemade crafts without the need for a permit. This creates a lively atmosphere of bargaining and bartering in the streets.
Local customs for King's Birthday in the Netherlands
While the King's Birthday is celebrated throughout the country, each city and town has its unique way of marking the occasion. In Amsterdam, the city's canals are filled with boats decorated in orange, and the streets become a massive open-air party with live music and dancing. In The Hague, the King's Night (Koningsnacht) is celebrated on the evening before King's Day, featuring live performances and parties throughout the city. Smaller towns and villages may organize local games and activities for children, such as face painting, treasure hunts, or sports competitions.
King's Birthday is a cherished national holiday in the Netherlands that unites the country in a vibrant celebration of their monarch and their shared history. From the widespread wearing of orange to the lively street parties and free markets, the spirit of unity and festivity can be felt across the nation. Whether celebrated in a bustling city or a quaint village, King's Day remains a beloved and festive occasion for the Dutch people.