Queen's Birthday in Netherlands
The Queen's official birthday (Queen's Day, koninginnedag) in the Netherlands is celebrated each year with parties, street markets, concerts and special events for the royal family on April 30 or on April 29 if the 30th is a Sunday.
What do people do?
In many towns and cities, particularly Amsterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht and The Hague, the Queen's Day celebrations begin on the evening of April 29. There are public music performances and street parties. Some events continue until daybreak when the actual Queen's Day events begin.
Many people in the Netherlands have a day off work and schools are closed on April 30. It is the only day in the year that people without licences to trade can sell things on the street. Some people set up stalls to sell second-hand goods and Queen's Day themed products in many city and town centers.
There is a lot of busking and official musical performances on Queen's Day. Many people spontaneously sing "Het Wilhelmus". This is a poem written in 1574 and describes the life of William of Orange (William the Silent) and his fight for the Dutch people. It is written as if William of Orange is introducing himself to the Dutch people. Versions are also played by bands performing at Queen's Day events and on radio stations.
Each year, the royal family visits one or a few places on April 30. There they are entertained with displays and performances around local historic events. The members of the royal family generally join in with the games in a good natured way and greet thousands of people who turn out to see them.
On April 30, banks, post offices and many businesses are closed. Opening hours in stores vary. Some stores are open as usual, some are open for part of the day, and some are closed all day. Public transport runs to a normal or special timetable and there are extra train services to take people home from large celebrations. However, buses and trams in the center of large cities may have different or shortened routes to avoid the crowds. Restaurants may be shut, open as usual or only serving special "Queen's Day" meals. Cafes and restaurants may close earlier than usual.
Due to mass celebration, it is difficult to reach many addresses in the center of large cities, especially Amsterdam by most forms of transport. Apart from minor criminal acts such as pick pocketing and urinating in public, Queen's Day events are usually very peaceful. If April 30 falls on a Sunday, the celebrations take place on Saturday April 29.
On August 31, 1880, Princess Wilhelmina was born in The Hague. She was the last child of King William III and the only child to outlive him. On August 31, 1885, and on the same date each year after that public birthday celebrations were held for her. The occasion was originally known as Princesses Day (Prinsessedag) and became known as Queen's Day in 1890 after Wilhelmina became Queen following the death of her father. On August 31, 1902, people in the Netherlands heard that Queen Wilhelmina had recovered from typhus and Queen's Day became a true public celebration.
On September 6, 1948, Wilhelmina's daughter, Juliana became queen and from 1949, the Queen's Day celebrations were moved to April 30, her birthday. On April 30, 1980, Beatrix, Juliana's daughter, became queen. Her birthday is on January 31, but the date of Queen's Day remained the same as a way of honoring Juliana. Hence, Queen's Day is the Queen's official birthday and the anniversary of her coronation.
The national flag of the Netherlands is a horizontal tricolor with red at the top, white in the middle and blue at the bottom. On some feast days, an orange strip of cloth, known as a wimpel, is hung above the national flag. This is a symbol for the Dutch royal family, which uses the name "House of Orange-Nassau". The national flag and the colors red, white, blue and orange are widely displayed on Queen's Day. Many people make a special effort to wear an orange item of clothing, to dye their hair orange or to color their faces orange. Accessories that combine the color orange with some symbol of the royal family, such as a crown or a lion, are especially popular and sought after.
The traditional drink on Queen's Day is oranje bitter. This is made by soaking the peel of bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium) in jenever, a strong alcoholic drink sometimes known as gin. The resulting liquid is bright orange. A lot of other orange food stuffs are prepared for Queen's Day. These include: cakes; custard slices with orange icing or filling; white chocolate; and soft drinks.
Queen's Birthday Observances