The King’s Day of the Dutch: Time of orange madness!

(VOVworld) - Koningsday or the King’s Day is the official birthday celebration of the King of Netherlands. It is held each year with parties, street markets, concerts and special events in honor of the royal family. King’s Day is one of the biggest Dutch national holidays when people really immerse themselves in an orange madness. Today we talk with Julia Van Herwaarden, a Dutch volunteer teacher at Hanoi University, about this upcoming exciting event.

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Julia Van Herwaarden dressed up in orange, the symbolic color of the Dutch, during The Global Volunteering Day 2016 in Hanoi. (Photo: VOV/Dieu Ha)

Q: Hello Julia, thank you for joining us on air. So I heard that the people in Netherlands are about to celebrate the very special King’s Day. Can you tell me about it?

A: If I have something to introduce about the Dutch culture, it would be the King’s Day. This year it will be held on April 27th. It’s a national day. In the past it used to be the Queen’s Day but now we have a King so it’s the King’s Day. This is a very special day because everything is orange. All the people are outside playing. There are activities, music. Things are really different. I believe that is something very traditional of Holland, just like when we play football. Most of the time, the Dutch team is really good and everything also goes orange. Our flag is white red and blue but the national color is orange.

Q: I know about your ‘orange madness’ but why orange? What’s so special about it that it was chosen as the national symbol?

A: Well, I grow up with it so I did not really know the meaning but I think it has to do with the kings and queens from the past. Their names were Orange-Nassau which had the word orange in it.

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The famous 'orange madness' of the Dutch on the King's Day
(Photo: Expatica Communications BV)

Q: So everyone just needs to dress in orange or do you have any traditional clothes for the King’s Day?

A: Everything in orange is ok. You can wear an orange t-shirt or an orange dress for example. We even have a beer brand, which is famous for its orange Bavarian dresses. When you buy beer, you can get one dress. So on the King’s Day, you can see all people wearing it. It’s not a must but you should wear one piece of orange.

Q: So what do you usually do on the King’s Day?

A: I think that really depends on your age. When I was younger, I went out with my parents around my village. We went shopping or to the market and played some simple games.  One of them is called Spijkerpoepen. But when you get older like my age, you will go to music festivals. And when you are much, much older and have a family, you will go back to your village and take your children to go around.

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The traditional Spijkerpoepen game in the Netherlands (Photo: Pinterest)
Q: Spijkerpoepen? What was that game? I have never heard of it.

A: It’s a little bit hard to describe but in general, you will have a rope and put it around your waist. Then you have another rope to be tied to that rope, whose one end ties with a nail. The nail must be behind your back. Your aim is by bending your knees, you will put the nail into one bottle on the ground. The first one to succeed is the winner. It’s really difficult but it’s really fun.

Q: Can I turn around to look at the nail?

A: Yes, you can turn around to take a look but that also makes it harder for you. So the best way is to look through your leg and you can see it.

Q: So the King’s Day is a celebration for the King and the Royal Family. Do you get a chance to see them during the day?

A: Yes, every year they pick a town or village and come to play games, like Spijkerpoep, with other people. Everyone was waiting for them, they decorated the town. It was a really big event.

Q: Really? They play with people. What if they lose?

A: (laugh) I don’t know. I think they must have lost before. I have never seen them actually. It’s really hard to see them because they are really busy. They once visited my town but maybe because I was too small that I don’t remember.

Q: You mentioned before that people of your age would go to music festivals on the King’s Day. What kind of music do the Dutch people play at these events?

A: Yes, many people know that the Netherlands has many famous DJs and dance musicians. In King’s Day, we mostly played dance, pop or the mixed music that DJs play. So it’s not really traditional but we like that. We have the national anthem to sing on that day. It’s popular but it’s not official song of the Day.

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Thousands of people gather at many music festivals on the King's Day. Some festivals will last until midnight (Photo: Radioactive Blog)

Q: I bet many people gather inside the festival center?

A: Yes, both inside and outside. People gather and dance together. For example they usually hold a big one in Amsterdam in an open building, more like a market. The festivals are usually free so everyone can come so it’s crowded. I’ve already looked at the weather forecast which is not really good. It might rain. That’s a pity but I hope it will be better. And that’s what it’s like to be in the Netherlands; we always have troubles with the weather.

Q: How long do the music festivals last?

A: Most of the time, the festivals stop at 11 or 12 in the evening but it also depends on what festival it is. Other activities stop at 5 or 6, only music festivals last longer. To some young people, the night before the King’s Day is also party night. You can go out with your friends and have fun on that day.

Q: Party night? Any one getting drunk?

A: (laugh) It depends on you but it’s easy to buy drink in my countries so there are people getting drunk too.

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King’s Day is one of the biggest and most typical Dutch national holidays. (Photo: expediablog/Antonio Olmedo)
That sounds like super big and fantastic day for all the Dutch people. I would love to join King’s Day with you in the near future.

Thank you again to Julia for the lovely talk and happy King’s Day to everyone, especially those from the land of Tulips. That’s been Culture Rendezvous and ‘till next time, good-bye!

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