March is almost coming to an end and we’re finally able to say goodbye to the winter that had us all curled up in hibernation for the last few months.
Instead of brutal winds that have fought us on our odd cycling adventures to get groceries, we are now able to enjoy the gentle(ish) winds of spring in the Netherlands.
Lambs are beginning to skip around their fields with glee. We, in theory, can skip, jog, walk or crawl (entirely dependent on the severity of your winter hibernation, no judgement here!) around blossoming parks in search of the summer body that we lost some time last year.
On a whole, the grey days are becoming brighter and the general hallmarks of a Dutch spring have thankfully appeared!
Here is a quick guide to the five biggest giveaways that spring has sprung in the Netherlands:
1. Rokjesdag (Skirt day!)
That’s right, the Dutch actually have a day called “skirt day”. In short (pun intended), Rokjesdag is the first day of the year that allows women, men, or anyone who wishes to free their legs the chance to do so.
It becomes warm enough so you can throw your winter tights out the window!
Made popular by the Dutch writer and Rokjesdag lover, Martin Bril, Rokjesdag is no longer merely a day, but in fact, symbolic of the start of spring.
Rokjesdag is die ene dag in het voorjaar dat alle vrouwen als bij toverslag ineens een rok dragen, met daaronder blote benen. – Martin Bril
Translation: Skirt Day is the one day in the spring when, as if by magic, all women suddenly wear a skirt, with bare legs underneath.
Naturally dictated by the ever-changing Dutch weather, there is not a fixed day on the calendar to mark this unofficial holiday.
2. Chillin’ on the terras
As soon as the sun shines in the Netherlands (for more than an hour), the large open squares that were previously desolate suddenly transform into huge seating areas.
Every man and his dog grabs a chair and biertje to soak up some long-awaited Vitamin D. Streets that were once empty and soulless turn into joyfully gezellig hotspots.
To fully enjoy this experience you have to be quick off the mark as the terrassen fill up quickly — and the Dutch and queuing don’t exactly go hand in hand.
Once they open, catapult yourself into the first available seat and enjoy getting tipsy (zat) in the splendid spring sunshine!
3. Happy cows (yes, seriously!)
Cows?! I know, I know, the cow is not exactly the first farmyard animal that pops into your head when you think of spring.
Normally it’s the birth of fluffy lambs, bunny rabbits and cute little chicks that melt even the coldest of hearts as we gear up for Easter egg hunts and picnicking in the parks.
However, springtime for the humble cow means freedom from their dark and dreary winter shelters. They are finally free to skip, mooch and chill out in the fresh aired fields that they’ve missed so much.
4. Tulips, tulips, tulips (and of course, many other beautiful flowers)!
Unless you were hibernating, you couldn’t have missed the brightly coloured crocuses and daffodils that are shooting up around all the parks, or the pretty pink cherry blossoms that scatter the once grey trees.
Of course, spring would simply not be spring in the Netherlands without the beloved tulip. Fields upon fields of the unofficial Dutch flower have come into bloom and the striking colours of the flowers are certainly a sight to behold!
5. Spring in the Netherlands: orange everything!
Along with the brighter days and longer evenings, there is another strange and somewhat remarkable occurrence that indicates the start of spring.
This phenomenon is not technically connected to the changing of seasons. Each year, sure enough, just as spring approaches, the shops simultaneously begin to fill up with items in a bold and almost blinding shade of orange. (That very few people can actually pull off.)
This is in preparation for the Koningsdag (King’s Day) celebrations that kick off on April 27!
Koningsdag is normally the biggest party in the Netherlands which celebrates the King’s birthday. So stock up on orange and keep the tradition going. It’s definitely a day to remember!
What are your dead giveaways that spring is coming in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2018, but was fully updated in March 2023 for your reading pleasure.