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

April 30, 2013

Will a King Beat a Queen in This Royal Flush?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m interrupting my series of posts on Plaswijkpark because as I type  this one the evening of April 29th 2013, The Netherlands in on the verge of a huge historical event.

Queen Beatrix is tonight entertaining world heads of State and  has broadcast a  Thank You message to the Dutch people on Dutch television because as her time as the reigning monarch of this country ends tomorrow, on the National holiday of
Koninginnedag” (Queen’s Day).

The date on which this holiday is held comes from another Dutch Queen: Beatrix’s mother,  Juliana.

Once Beatrix took over the throne consideration was given to moving  Koninginnedag to the date of her own birthday, but since Beatrix was born on 31st January  it’s was deemed impractical  to try and organise the traditional street markets, parties and festivities in the heart of winter.

Tomorrow, (or today as you will be reading this) sometime in the mid-morning Beatrix will sign the papers of abdication and Prince Willem-Alexander will take part in his investiture as the first Dutch King to reign over the Netherlands since 1890.

Regular readers of this blog will known that I’m no Royalist, I dislike the idea of hereditary (and mostly ceremonial) power over someone elected for ability and the fact that this royal family has often come under scrutiny (quite rightly so) for whilst being one of the smallest royal houses of Europe,  exact the greatest percentage of funds from the taxpayers and the national purse.

Today as a Dutch citizen I found out another piece of information that  gets my Republican claws twitching…  “Koninginnedag”  (Queen’s Day)  on 30th April  will naturally become “Koningsdag”  (King’s Day)  following the investiture of  Willem-Alexander… ok that’s logical enough, but what rankles with me is that he will shift the date of this Public holiday to that of his own birthday:  27th April.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I could completely understand if his birthday fell in June, July or August for instance because the weather is often iffy and temperamentally changeable at this time of the year, but to change the date of a National holiday that has been celebrated on the same day since 1948 by three days?   For me it smacks of a selfish ego trip. His mother kept the holiday as that of the date of her mother, so why can’t he?

It can’t be for reasons of  “possible better weather” because last weeks weather for instance was even more lousy than this weeks. Yea! ergo therefore we now can look forward to a greater chance of a nation of little kids sitting trying to sell their toys on the street market in the rain. Yes, I’m thrilled (spot the sarcasm).

Willem-Alexander and Maxima’s oldest daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia was born on 7th December so in all likelihood she will not have the choice of switching the national celebration of Dutch identity and festivities to her own birthday… so her Father’s Birthday and “King’s Day” will probably remain even though she would rightfully be Queen… a Queen without a “Queen’s Day” thus.
Is it just me or does that suck?

I was going to do some baking last weekend but on Friday my back pain was back with a vengeance and it was all I could do to move at all. Therefore today after work I got out the baking trays and went on a baking frenzy… I’ll be trying to sell as many Kiwi style biscuits (cookies) as possible to everyone at the street fair,with all funds raised going to the Kiribati School for the Disabled that our family support and fund-raise for.

Needless to say the entire country of the Netherlands seems to be slowly turning orange (our National colour) for this event… there are orange cakes and iced cookies in the shops and orange clothes, accessories and commemorative tat everywhere. Some of it is tasteful, most of it is not (kind of like my view of the Royal family LOL) .. but I guess it’s fun and it’s entertainment of a sort.

Will I be watching the investiture of our new King? … no, not live but maybe I’ll catch a snippet on the evening news “for the sake of history”… I like local history after all and I suppose it’s not every day a country gets a change of monarch.

I’ve decided to enjoy the spectacle too because no matter which way you cut this cake and like it or not, we are still footing the bill for it.  Only Time will tell if the popularity of this King is the winning hand that will beat that of the precious Queen after tomorrows Royal Flush.

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