Local Heart, Global Soul

April 26, 2014

Out With The Queen, In With The King … Takes A Bit Of Getting Used To…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today is big day in The Netherlands… it’s the celebration of Koningsdag (King’s Day).

This year it feels rather strange for much of the Dutch population because this is the first “Koningsdag” in living memory.  This is because when the Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated in 2013  for the first time in four generations the crown passed to a male member of the Dutch Royal Family.

Wikipedia tells me:  “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.

Therefore until now we have always had a “Koninginnedag” (Queen’s Day)… and it was always celebrated on the birth-date of Juliana as an expression of continuity rather than switching it around during the thirty years of Beatrix’s reign.  Now things have been turned a little topsy turvy and not only has the name of this annual celebration changed but the date has too.

To be honest I preferred the old date, the last day of the month was easy to remember and organise for and since April is April the weather was always a gamble but at least you have a chance of fair weather. Moving it backwards in the calendar even just by a few days seems even on a physiological level to be like stepping back towards winter.

Fingers crossed that the rain holds off because today is a very busy day indeed. Hundreds of thousands of children (and their parents) around the Netherlands will be spreading out  their worldly goods on blankets as what’s probably the world’s biggest flea market takes places over the length and breadth of the country.

In some ways there is just too much stuff at once… it drives prices down for a start, as the only official day that is tax exempt on anything earned, some people do try and make money, others just take the opportunity to clear out the clutter and get rid of toys and clothes that children have grown out of.

Himself and I learned early on as parents that any cash you make from a sale generally stays in the parental pocket for a very short time as children beg for money to spend on  the mountain of “treasures” all around them.  For parents the main goal of the day is to get rid of more stuff than your kids would like to drag home.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Also traditional is to celebrate dressed to some degree in the national colour: orange, and as pocket-money enhancing endeavours, children often bake cupcakes for sale (Ok, yes the parents actually do the real work)…  or there is the old favourite : “grabbelen” (to grab).

This is where small gifts  (wrapped sweets / old toys/  stickers etc) are wrapped up and buried in something.

The “somethings” I’ve seen so far have been a wheelbarrow of sand, boxes or baskets full of shredded paper, Styrofoam packaging chips, sawdust or balls of scrunched up newspaper.

Other kids pay a nominal fee to grabbel…. which means reaching in an arm and fishing around for a little package that is then their prize.

Often if it’s a busy street a band will be playing,  some enterprising adults may have set up a BBQ and be sizzling sausages to sell, and generally the streets will be packed with sellers and bargain hunters.

The golden rule is that if you are a seller you have to set up your pitch very early to get a good spot, if you are a bargain hunter you will also have to rise with the dawn to snare your bargain. Be sure to take small notes and change, be prepared for the hustle, bustle, noise and crowds of people. Except with the smallest of children be prepared to haggle, wear at least one small item in orange and get out onto the streets and have fun!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koningsdag

1 Comment »

  1. It looks like a fun day!

    Comment by The Laughing Housewife — April 27, 2014 @ 8:04 pm | Reply


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