Dutch Donderdag – Koninginnedag (Hangover NOT Optional)

I just witnessed my first Queen’s Day in Amsterdam… & by “witness” I mean I hid in the flat with the curtains closed, the windows shut & the TV turned up loud. I’m not comfortable in crowds & the Netherlands’ yearly celebration is the mother of all orange-clad, migraine-inducing crowds.

So what is Queen’s Day? Queen’s Day (or Koninginnedag to give it its Dutch title) is the celebration of the Queen’s official birthday. Her Madge’s birthday is actually January 31st but I guess as that date is usually accompanied with wind, rain & cold she had to choose another one so the Dutch population can ‘party on down’ relatively chill-free. Personally I think this is a clever choice of dates as the following day, May 1st, is when all the May Day protests occur, usually followed by the obligatory May Day riots. Not so in the Netherlands. You try protesting with a cracking hang-over.

So what happens on this most orange of festivals? Celebrations kick off the following evening (aptly named Queen’s Day eve) when people head off to some of the other major cities (Rotterdam or Utrecht), wear orange & get drunk. So far, so Dutch. Then on the Day itself the entire population of the Netherlands, in a bleary post-alcoholic fuelled funk, tries to shoe-horn itself into Amsterdam. The streets & canals come alive with hordes of hungover Dutch wearing equally headache generating shades of orange.

Here I’ll do a quick digress. Why this shade of orange? Yes I know it’s all down to ‘William of Orange’ but he wasn’t called ‘William the Neon Orange’. There are many calming, toned-down shades of this colour… why oh why did the Dutch have to pick the one that can bring on seizures?

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes… The population of the Netherlands is now stumbling through Amsterdam’s streets in a “party mood”. The population of Amsterdam, in turn, takes advantage of all these ex-hungover-newly-inebriated-brain-fuddled outsiders by setting up stalls outside their apartments… & selling off all their second-hand tat, crap & the occasional over-priced can of lukewarm beer. In effect Amsterdam becomes the biggest flea-market in the developed (& possibly developing) world.

The royal family, in general, shun the crowds to “spend time with family”… except the prince who, this year, spent his day chucking orange painted toilets down a field…. yes you read that right… no I don’t know why either.

Eventually, after Amsterdam has been drunk dry & there’s no more second-hand rubbish to buy, the Netherlands populous heads off home, ready to nurse its collective hangover the following day at work.

Ha ha!


Footnote… Yes I’m sure there’s a more sensible/historic reason as to why we celebrate the Queen’s birthday on April 30th (or 29th if it falls on a Sunday). Just check Wikipedia. However, I like my reasoning better.

3 thoughts on “Dutch Donderdag – Koninginnedag (Hangover NOT Optional)

  1. Kate,

    nicely written! In Holland new year's eve is usually on the 31st of december, though!

    Greetz to your man!

  2. FYI, April 30th IS the Queen's birthday. Just not this Queen's, but the previous Queen [now Princess] Juliana. When Beatrix ascended the throne, the decision was made to keep Queen's Day at April 30th because Beatrix birthday was indeed a bit chilly for the festivities.

    If you want more information on Amsterdam, and you don't mind scenes of brutal violence, you might want to check out the Amsterdam Assassin Series, available on Amazon and Kobo. See amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com

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