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First Time: King’s Day for an Expat

First Time: King’s Day for an Expat

On Wednesday the 27th of April 2022, it was King’s Day in the Netherlands. This year was the first time for me, an international student, to experience the orange celebrations up close. I had been told about King’s Day before moving here, nevertheless, I did not expect such a day to be a national holiday and for people to actually be off work to “congratulate the king” with beer and hats. 

As an expat, it was hard to find my way around the many events that take place on King’s Day. I first heard about the boat parties and Amsterdam, then afterward heard about festivals and day-drinking, to later discover the King’s night parties that take place even the night before the actual day and lastly, I was told about flea markets happening everywhere in the country. It became very clear to me that a day off for people here meant a day full of activities. People who have lived here for many years told me about so many traditions, games, and decorations that I was unable to keep up. The day brings a certain sparkle to the eyes of the Dutch as they think about childhood memories and day parties. Advice: If you want a person from the Netherlands to open up, ask them about how they celebrate King’s Day. I am sure it has a special place in their heart and if not, they certainly have an opinion about it. 

As I walked around the shopping streets the days before the holiday, all the clothes to be sold were in orange, which suggested to me that I should be looking for an orange outfit to wear. When I saw the stick that can color your face in red, white, and blue stripes, like the flag, being sold for a euro in the shops, I was amazed and knew to expect something big. I bought my ticket for a festival, planned brunch and day drinking. On the day I dressed up in orange and emerged myself into a full day of Dutch celebrations. 

In conclusion, I must say that the King did not play much of a role throughout the celebrations, however, the mood was very catching. The Netherlands have more than enough reasons to be happy about their special holiday and I think it is quite unique to have a day that gathers all the people living in the country. It makes everyone feel merry together and seems to unite the country. Such smiles and unifications can definitely be needed, especially after a long time with Covid. If you happen to be able to experience King’s Day or are considering doing so, then I would definitely recommend for you to join in on the jolly festivities.


Author: Monique Veni Jørgensen 

Editor: Phoebe Elliott

Visuals by: Rea Roitner  

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