Coming up in a couple of weeks, April 27 to be exact, the King’s birthday is celebrated in the Netherlands. While there are a couple of dignified stately celebrations, for the most part King’s Day is celebrated with an all-out, country-wide party.
The evening before King’s Day, people mark out rectangles on the pavement along the canal and bridge railings with duct tape. I was puzzled about this – I thought they were reserving their bicycle parking spots, which would be very un-Dutch. The next day, they had set up stalls within these rectangles and were selling old clothes and knick-knacks, offering fresh delicious mojitos and other concoctions for sale, or selling delicious poffertjes (little pancakes). As it turns out, King’s Day is the only day of the year people can have tag sales in the streets of Amsterdam. (There are no garages or yards, so that’s out.)
The next thing you’ll notice is a lot of orange – orange hats, aprons (in which you can carry multiple shot glasses), t-shirts, pants (Dutch men often sport colorful trousers), hair, faces, and anything else that can be painted or dyed. Although the Dutch flag is red, white, and blue, orange is the color of the royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.
A feeling of peaceful celebration is in the air, most people are at least slightly inebriated, but the day progresses in a feeling of general goodwill and camaraderie. And the boats – in Amsterdam, the canals are filled with boats overflowing with partygoers dancing to thumping music, beer in hand.
At the intersections of the canals, boat jams occur, but everyone is very good natured about it and uses them as an opportunity for more flirting and partying. I kept waiting to hear the tell-tale splash of a person hitting the water but did not see anything of the kind. Dutch people must be born with an innate sense of how to avoid falling into the water, like cats.
All the world's a stage – a puppetmaster, and his puppets.
Not everyone goes crazy – some folks revel in a quieter and more dignified fashion.
Party with us in Paris – join us on our Papa’s Paris Tour, June 17-25. Reserve your room by April 15 to secure your spot. We're looking forward to having you!