Koningsdag or King’s Day is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Celebrated on 27 April (the 26th if the 27th falls on a Sunday), the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander.
This day is not just a birthday celebration, but an opportunity for the people of Holland to celebrate their country and culture and express their patriotism and pride in being Dutch.
From 1890 to 2013, the day was known as Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day. The holiday was first observed on 31 August 1885 as Prinsessedag or Princess’s Day, the fifth birthday anniversary of Princess Wilhelmina, heiress to the Dutch throne. On her accession, the holiday acquired the name, Koninginnedag. When held on 31 August the holiday was the final day of school summer vacation, leading to its popularity among children. Following the accession of Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana in 1948, the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday on 30 April.
Her daughter, Beatrix retained the celebration on 30 April after she ascended the throne in 1980, despite her actual birthday occurring on 31 January. Beatrix altered her mother’s custom of receiving a floral parade near a Royal palace, instead choosing to visit different Dutch towns each year and join in the festivities along with her sons.
Koningsdag is known for its nationwide vrijmarkt (“free market”), at which many Dutch sell their secondhand items. It is also an opportunity for “orange madness” or oranjegekte, for the national colour, when the normally strait-laced Dutch let down their hair, often dyed orange for the occasion.
Join us in celebrating this special holiday this Saturday 26th April 2014.