Celebrating its own bizarre fifth year anniversary this year, the ‘mistaken tourists’ (‘vergistoeristen’, in Dutch, a contender for the best word of the year 2018 in my view), are people who still show up in Amsterdam on 30 April on what used to be Queen’s Day, The Netherlands’ national holiday, dressed in orange garb and wondering where the party is.
In 2014 Queen’s Day was renamed King’s Day and moved to King Willem-Alexander’s actual birthday, 27 April, except if that day falls on a Sunday, then it’s on 26 April. The culprits seems to be outdated guide books and sites, holding on tight to Queen’s Day on 30 April and in doing so, pissing off a lot of tourists and giving us a chance to admire their editorial skills.
However, why would tourists and even websites have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days and can move around a bit more if 27 April falls on a Sunday? I wonder how many more years this will last, although I wonder if we’ll make it to a tenth year anniversary. Maybe then we should actually throw a party for the tourists.
Three years into the switch from Queen Beatrix to King Willem-Alexander and from 30 April to 27 April (26 April if it’s a Sunday), tourists are apparently still booking holidays for King’s Day three days too late based on crappy intel, and booking agencies aren’t exactly warning them. Why would tourists have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days?
I was talking to my best friend in Québec on the phone recently, telling her about how royally excited I get about the flea market that is the Netherlands on King’s Day. I explained the tourists mishaps that keep happening and she said “what kind of country changes the day of a national holiday?” A country that celebrates it on the birthday of their King or Queen, rather than a set date. Canada Day is celebrated on July 1 for the signing of the British North American act in 1867, so the only moving going on on that date is the Province of Québec (follow the link to get the joke, you’ll thank me).
As luck will have it, Wim-Lex just happens to have his birthday close to 30 April, on 27 April, so that was an easy move. However, the date did not move for Queen Beatrix because her birthday is in January, so we’re inconsistently consistent. According to Wikipedia, on Princess Wilhelmina’s accession to the throne in November 1890 the holiday became ‘Koninginnedag’ (‘Queen’s Day’), first celebrated on 31 August 1891. In September 1948, Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana ascended to the throne and the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday, 30 April. The holiday was celebrated on this date from 1949 until 2013.
Moving the holiday wasn’t new, but it hadn’t been moved in a while and moves when it’s easier, a bit like in the Province of Québec.
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.
Maybe it was because I had an inauguration on my mind and maybe because everybody else had, but it seemed that there were more ‘kings’ and ‘queens’ than usual at the vrijmarkt last Tuesday, the annual nationwide flea market held during our national holiday, Queen’s Day.
I actually managed to catch the making of a new king on television because it all happened so quickly and so early. According to the law there must be a monarch. The very second Queen Beatrix put her signature under the declaration of abdication, she became a princess. The king next signed the same document as a witness. This happened around 10.07 in the morning, when I was still on my first coffee.
This gold Canta microcar has been driving all over Amsterdam the past few days; I myself spotted it on Olympiaplein in Amsterdam just when Orangemaster and I returned home from the Queen’s Day vrijmarkt.
This microcar has been made to look like the the Gold Coach, a carriage owned by the royal family. I don’t know who made this ‘copy’. It could be some kind of publicity stunt, but Cantas are notoriously difficult to acquire unless you are disabled—the manufacturer only sells to the disabled.
The Gold Coach was given by the citizens of Amsterdam as a present to Queen Wilhelmina in 1898 for her inauguration. It is still in use today for transporting members of the royal family to formal events. Today Willem-Alexander of the house of Orange-Nassau became king of the Netherlands after his mother Beatrix abdicated, but he did not use the Gold Coach.
International headlines have been buzzing since last night about Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicating the throne so that her son, Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander can take over the family business on 30 April, a holiday you may know as Queen’s Day (pics).
The next item of business is that as of 2014 Queen’s Day will be known as King’s Day and fall on Willem-Alexander’s birthday, 27 April. However, because 27 April in 2014 is a Sunday, the merriment will get underway on 26 April.
I kind of feel sorry for all the drag queens next year as they may have to review their party outfits. I really do hope the drag kings, a highly underrated breed, make a big royal appearance.
To celebrate Wim-Lex’s turn to run the Royals, here’s a Dunglish number I dedicate to him:
Utrecht based computer science professor Wolfgang Hürst shot this video last year of the party boats in Amsterdam during Queen’s Day. It’s definitely my favourite video of that day. I think the images combine very well with the music (“Ashes of Time” by Fool’s Chaos).
I will be enjoying Queen’s Day (April 30) myself as always by dipping into the nation-wide garage sale, and hope to score some glass for my camera. Specifically, any wide-angle lenses for under ten euro will get my attention.
As promised yesterday here is a video of the Queen’s Day festivities in Amsterdam yesterday. It turned out that I had rather less material to work with than I had hoped for, so the impression is rather short. If you want more, do check out this excellent video by Wolfgang Hürst about the party down-town.
Sure, Queen’s Day is also the day thousands of Dutch men and women are decorated for services to their country and their fellow men. It is the day when the Queen visits a few lucky villages where they bore her to bits with traditional clog dances. It is the day when you can take in dozens of live concerts in Arnhem and Amsterdam and the likes.
But few things in life have—to me at least—the allure of going through other people’s garbage at the country wide flea market, and then buying said garbage. Here are some pictures from around my neighbourhood, Amsterdam Zuid, taken by Orangemaster and me.
More photos will be posted at Flickr, and hopefully I’ll have a video impression ready by tomorrow.