“Your highness. Now that you have been successfully crowned William-Alexander, King of The Netherlands how would you like the occasion to be remembered? Your face will already adorn our nations stamps and its currency but perhaps we should name a street in your honour… or an entire city maybe… Possibly we could erect a mighty statue which captures your majestic likeness or build a great structure of architectural marvel in your name to show your strength. How my lord? How would you like to be remembered?”
“With none of these things.”
“I desire something truly fitting of a king. Something that the people will remembered me for forever, for generations to come.”
And so the time has finally arrived for Queen Beatrix to retire from her daily 9 to 5 and hand the family business over to her son Willem-Alexander. For Beatrix this means more free time and maybe a new hobby or two. For Alexander it means following in his mothers footsteps and giving up any dreams he might have had of becoming a dancer (or maybe I’m getting mixed up with the plot of Billy Eliot). And for Alexander’s wife it means she will become Queen Maxima, a title that makes her sound like a bond villain.
But more importantly; for the Dutch people it means everything will change. No longer will they celebrate Queen’s Day by dressing up in more orange than is fashionably sensible and getting as drunk as possible before 11am. Instead they will celebrate King’s day by dressing up in more orange than is fashionably sensible and getting as drunk as possible before 11am… It will take some getting used to.
Luckily the Dutch royal family have a habit of being born around the same time of year so the date will only shift from April 30th (Queen Juliana B-day) to April 27th (King Alexander’s B-day). At least it will just as soon as everyone can work out what to call it… Koningsdag? Koningdag?
Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) is the day when the whole of Holland celebrates the birthday of the Dutch Queen Mother by getting blind drunk before 11am, dancing in the streets and being as crazy as they can be. This is farther proof that even the Queen mother dislikes Dutch circle parties and will do anything to make sure her party is a lively one.
Everyone goes orange crazy (the “oranje gekte” starts) to show their support for the Dutch family (The House of Orange). There are orange banners and decorations, orange colored drinks and foods, orange dyed hair and lots and lots of orange clothes and crazy accessories. This makes it a particularly depressing day for anyone with orange color blindness. Most of the time they probably don’t even know what is going on and just think it is a bit busy for some reason.
The streets become packed with people celebrating. Moving through cities such as Amsterdam in large groups becomes an impossible task. The current of the crowd is too strong and before you know it part of your group is washed up on Dam square while the other half is being dragged towards Museum Plein at a speed of 12 knots.
No matter how hard you try not to you will end up wearing beer, even if you are not drinking it yourself. It’s a side effect of inebriated people trying to carry more beer than they have fingers.
Under age drinkers will attempt to join in on the festivities by concealing the alcoholic drink of their choice within innocent looking fizzy pop drinks bottles. To them this is the height of deception and completely undetectable by even the greatest of minds. To the rest of us it is extremely obvious due to their loud giggling, singing, constant fighting over the contents of the bottle and the fact that Dr Pepper has suddenly become strangely fluorescent blue in colour.
Because of the vrijmarkt (free market) on Koninginnedag the Dutch can and will gather all their unwanted belongs from their house, take them outside, dump them on the street and proceed in a desperate fashion to sell them for a few coins to any passers by using any means necessary. Crack addicts trying to score money for drugs have more subtlety and dignity.
Amongst the items usually available in the vrijmarkt it is still possible to find things such as 80’s aerobic workout VHS cassettes, top of the pops music cassette tapes, 2D game floppy disks and other discontinued entertainment media formats. It’s entirely possible that these items have been changing owners every Queen’s Day since 1985.
Dutch parents will force their children to sing, dance, juggle, mime, play musical instruments, recite poetry, reenact Shakespeare or simply stand on their head for money in a way that has been outlawed by most third world countries.
Vondelpark in Amsterdam becomes a children’s market (a place where children sell their unwanted toys and not where parents sell their unwanted children). This makes it possible for parents to see all the money they spent on toys for the last 10 Sinterklaas pakjesavond get traded in for Pokemon cards.
Selling toys at the children’s market is a defining moment in every child’s life. It displays something of the kind of adult they will grow up to be. Will they be honest and generous or will they try to sell those free McDonald’s Happy Meal toys for 50 cents each?
By 7:00 the streets are empty once again because everyone is far too drunk to do anything. Crushed plastic beer glasses and unsold junk is all that remain like some kind of bizarre post apocalypse movie scene (possibly one about the zombie apocalypse at Glastonbury).
Work is taking me out of the country for a short while again and because of that I wont have any time for anything blog related until I get back and because of that I’m leaving you with another very funny from John Fealey. This time he is talking about Koninginnedag. See you in a few days.
If you are unable to see the embedded video above follow this link.