Everything you need to know about King’s Day in 2018
It’s that time of the year again. One of the holidays Holland is best known for. We celebrate our dying monarchy by congratulating our king by drinking ’till we drop. To warm up to the Dutch partying ways hereby I share with you 6 things you should know before King’s Day
1. King’s Day: What’s in a name
King’s Day is the time of year we celebrate the king’s birthday. It’s a bit of an adjustment for everyone since it used to be called Queen’s Day for decades up until five years ago when we celebrated King Willem Alexanders crowning.
Before that we used to celebrate the birthday of our queen mother Beatrix. But now retired we switched things up and now call it King’s Day. Why? Because in laws are always ignored and should be happy just to be there. Right, post-mortem Prince Claus?
Our Willem Alexander is the proper heir to the throne because genes. So Maxima’s queen title is just there for the fun of it. She is as much a queen as Rupaul is one.
Nonetheless King’s day is upon us. But for decades it hasn’t actually been the queen’s birthday. After queen Juliana’s rule, ending in 1980, whose birthday was on the the 30th of April, Queen Beatrix decided to keep the date. Her birthday is actually on the 31st of January. But knowing the country we live in and not wanting to spread pneumonia-like wildfire she decided to keep the date.
Before Juliana’s rule Queen’s day was held on Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday on the 31st of August and the day actually originated in her younger years when she was still a Princess: being titled Princess’ Day. And looking at a photo of her from back in the day it becomes clear why: who doesn’t want to throw that sexy little minx a party.
2. Meet the royals
Yes, since Beatrix started the tradition, the royals go out on the town and celebrate with ‘the people’. So you too can catch a glimpse of the king and queen. Every year the royals go to a certain region in the country to show how connected they are to their people by playing silly Dutch games, enjoying old Dutch traditions involving clogs and swamp monster re-enactments (oh, how I’d wish that were true). They small talk and kiss their way down to a serious case of the herp.
Where are the royals visiting this year?
So want to catch a glimpse of the royals this year? The royal family will be visiting Groningen in 2018. Once again this year they are going to mix things up compared to regular stuff of old Queensdays and enjoy themselves a celebration new style: with the royals enjoying a boat parade (You can almost see the Dutch PR’s wheels turning). And yes there will be flea-markets (more on that later), kids turning tricks and our nations ‘best musicians’ performing in front of the royals.
The ‘new style’ doesn’t mean however that the royals won’t remain friendly with their fans and if you are intrigued go to Groningen. You might actually shake hands and realize that they are just as boring as everyone else.
But let’s be glad Willem Alexander stumbled upon Maxima and made her his queen. At least there is a regal aura to her beauty. That and a really good stylist I suppose.
Now let’s see how well the royal couple can deflect selfie sticks this year!
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3. Flea Market Wars
King’s Day is also known for the flea market infestation that becomes most cities. Ban for free trade is lifted. Days, and sometimes weeks, in advance people mark their territory with crayons and tags. Curbs, sidewalks, bridges. Every patch and centimeter becomes potential reason for dispute and conflict. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people mark their spot by urinating.
But want to get rid of some of your old junk? Put it on display and you might sell some of it (obviously depending on how crappy your stuff is). Half of Holland has fond childhood memories (read: trauma) of saving up for that special toy by selling their old stuff during Queen’s Day.
I wonder though if online marketplaces like Marktplaats are emptying out this tradition. Online you are bound to get better price and more then just a handful of uninterested people passing by. So remember: if you do this, you’ll be doing it more for tradition than profit.
This is also the day you can actually make some spare change with reselling booze, drinks, food, refreshments or just providing plain silly entertainment. It doesn’t really matter how silly. You will make money. Drunks are easy targets.
And talking about alcohol…
4. Drug of choice: Beer
Holland loves their booze and after decades of smart marketing by Heineken, our Dutch commercial pride, we are all hooked on the foamy sweet nectar of the gods during King’s Day.
And oh, how we love it.
No beer glass is left full, no mind is left clear. If there is ever a day to black out, it is this one. A photo exposition on alcohol abuse practically shoots itself during King’s Day.
And it’s not just King’s Day, the King’s Night before is half the fun. It’s usually as busy as King’s Day minus the kids and families. That means even less inhibition to spill your beer, pee your pants and slur your words.
But for a pleasant experience (aside from eating light), for the love of God, wear Orange!
5. Orange Everything
Yes, the color of Dutch pride is recycled endlessly through World cups, Olympics and Queen’s days. Wear orange and you are Dutch. Dutch, immigrant, tourist, foreigner, expat, mammal. It doesn’t matter. It’s harmony by color. Especially in combination with belting out some basic phrases at complete strangers like ‘I love Holland’ , ‘oh, Nederland’ , ‘ Leve de Koning’ , or maybe just even a loud roar, will bring people to hugs, high fives, laughter and more.
On Kingsday a country with an ongoing identity crisis gets to retreat in bliss and harmony. Orange is us. Orange is belonging. Orange is love.
And so plenty brands use this to their advantage to show their fictive (multinational) patriotic love: shaving razors, beats headphones, grills, barbies, lube and more. All are tapping into our Dutch sense of belonging to then exploit it to the full. And so the cycle continues.
6. Crowd Forecast: Chillax
Watch out for the big cities though. They can clog up if it’s a sunny day and I’m talking cardiac arrest kind of clogging, especially Amsterdam. Our streets and canals are not made for crowds, that’s for sure. And as fun as the music, singing and performances can be, the canned sardine dance gets old after a while (although of course a true classic).
It can be cold and last year in particular saw ‘typical Dutch weather’. So I would suggest to refrain from staying outdoors for extended periods of time. You can make pitstops inside the busy bars and cafe’s. Let’s hope this year the weather will be better!
Another great alternative is heading to one of the many festivals in most Dutch Cities which you can check out.
Bonus Survival Tip for King’s Day 2018: Herstelbiertje
Unfortunately, you still have to go to work on the next day. But not to worry, just have a herstelbiertje (‘recovery beer’)! According to the Dutch, the best way to get over your hangover in the morning is by drinking even more alcohol. And who in their right mind would argue with that? So just ignore the desperate cries of your liver, and go for that good old Dutch beer! The real breakfast of party champions.
Well, that completes the Kingsday survival kit for today. Now have a blast and let’s nostalgically commemorate a time when the monarchy still mattered within our tiny imaged community!!!
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