In the Netherlands there is only one true way to know when Spring has arrived. It is not the blooming of the first tulip or the birth of the first baby duckling. It is quite simply Rokjesdag.
Rokjesdag (also known as skirt day) is the name given to the first day of the year when it becomes warm enough for Dutch ladies to start showing off their bare legs again as they once more begin dressing in a selection of short skirts, dresses and shorts.
It also happens to be the day when most Dutch men start wearing their sunglasses in what they ‘think’ is a clever deception allowing them to enjoy the ‘traditions’ of Rokjesdag without getting into trouble with their wives of girlfriends. It never works out as they expect.
Most people in The Netherlands are familiar with the concept. In fact, a lot of Dutch people don’t consider spring to have officially started until Rokjesdag has taken place. The term was made popular by Dutch writer and columnist Martin Bril who called it a great and beautiful day. It has become so recognised now that a Dutch movie was released this year about it. In short, it is the most official un-official holiday in the Netherlands.
When is Rokjesdag?
The Dutch probably would make Rokjesdag an official holiday if the unpredictable Dutch weather didn’t make it impossible to set a fixed date for the event. One year Rokjesdag might be in April, the following year it might be in May and the year after that it might be in April, May, June or July. It’s the only holiday that can be affected by chaos theory. As the old saying goes, “A butterfly can flap its wings in Brazil and cause a Hurricane in Hong kong and Rokjesdag in The Netherlands.”
This unpredictability is probably the only thing stopping the Dutch from creating official ‘Happy Rokjesdag’ greeting cards for the occasion as well.
How do you celebrate Rokjesdag?
There is no official way to celebrate Rokjesdag (yet, give the Dutch time). However, most people agree that at least 50% of the female population has to be showing off their legs for it to be considered a true Rokjesdag. Anything less and it is simply a group of women who have badly misjudged the weather (and are probably freezing).
Wearing tights or leggings is viewed as cheating. Only items of clothing that put bare legs on display count; skirts, dresses, blouses, shorts. Men are also free to join in with the tradition of skirt/dress wearing if they wish. Rokjesdag is for everybody to enjoy, male or female. It should be fun for everyone… However, most men choose to wear shorts.
The important thing to realize is that Rokjesdag is more than just one day. It is merely the opening ceremony to (what is hopefully) a summer of clear skies, warm weather and short dresses… That is if the Dutch weather does not spoil everything.