‘Occupied’ an unwelcome word during first King’s Day

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bezet-martijn-van-exel

The Amsterdam district Centrum has declared the word ‘bezet’ (Dutch for occupied) a verbum non gratum, an unwelcome word for King’s Day.

During the Dutch national holiday, the whole country turns into a single large flea market. Citizens often chalk or tape a rectangle on the pavement the night or even days before to ensure themselves of the best spots and write the word ‘bezet’ in the middle for good measure. Parool reports that the district feels the word would be in bad taste so close to Remembrance of the Dead (4 May). To me that suggests (tongue firmly in cheek) a minor victory for the Nazis almost 70 years after they were chased out of the country by Canadian, British and American troops.

Saturday 26 April will be the first King’s Day ever. In 1885 a newspaper editor in Utrecht organised a Princess Day to celebrate the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, which evolved into Queen’s Day when Wilhelmina ascended the throne. Since then the Netherlands has only had queens, but last year King Willem Alexander took over from his mother during Queen’s Day. King’s Day is celebrated on the king’s birthday, 27 April, except when that date is on a Sunday—then the holiday will be moved to Saturday. This year that happens to be the case.

(Photo by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)

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