King’s Day ! On April 27th of every year, the Dutch people party in orange. Old-fashioned party games, tompouces (infamously known for its no-possible-way-to-eat-properly structure) and the general day of togetherness. It is the day that the entire country of the Netherlands is happy to celebrate the birthday of our Monarch!
The first variation on ‘King’s Day’ was already introduced around 1885, so this celebratory day has been around for over 130 years! Initially, it was meant to encourage social morale and to give a good boost to Dutch nationalism. Nowadays, however, it is associated more – especially amongst university students – with festivals and drinking beer with friends. But… where do the traditions come from, and how do the Dutchies celebrate?
Tradition: Dress. In. Orange.
We understand that you don’t have bright orange outfits just laying around your closet… This is why most people just dress regular (maybe red, white, blue as by the Dutch flag), and accessorise with orange! Think hairbands, scarves, funny glasses, bracelets, socks – anything. Follow the orange fever and put on your orange party hat!
The real ooold Dutch games may seem easy, but once you try it, you will probably have to think again. For instance, “pooping nails” (spijkerpoepen) means to tie a nail or needle around your waist with a piece of string, and try to drop it into an empty bottle – the tighter the bottle neck, the harder the game! When you play “biting gingerbread” (koekhappen), you have to sit on your knees and compete against your friends to bite off a piece of gingerbread of a string, without using your hands. In the extreme version, you even have to do this blindfolded! Another very interesting game is shuffleboard (sjoelen). Probably more widely known, this game consists of a long board with holes at the end of it. The goal is to shove as many little pucks into those holes as possible. These games may seem like weird activities, especially to base an entire national day around, but they are actually very much fun to play with friends and family!
On Kingsday, the Dutch do show off their very special cooking skills. The bitterballen come flying in from everywhere! He who has not eaten a bitterball, has failed King’s Day.
Other snacks that get extra attention on King’s Day are orange tompouces, orange cakes or pies, orange chips-n-dip… I think you get the idea right? Basically orange everything.
Another Dutch thing to do on Kingsday is cheese platters. You know the ones with the small cubes of cheese with a cocktail stick that has a paper Dutch flag attached to it? Yes, those. There might be some pieces of sausage on there as well – to have some variation.
Anyway, let’s enjoy King’s Day! Whether you are in the Netherlands right now or not, orange is key! For everyone who is currently in our little cheese-filled country, have a nice King’s Day with many, many bitterballen. And for everyone who couldn’t be here on this special day, have a little cheese cube on us. Cheers!
Author: Renée Mötter
Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung
Illustrator: Lisa van der Loos