King’s Day (Koningsdag) is a national holiday in the Netherlands. We celebrate King Willem Alexander’s birthday on April 27th. If you happen to be in the Netherlands on this date, you can experience a whole country turning orange! This is really happening. Children are in charge of the largest yard sale that is taking place countrywide, and adults don’t shy away from selling their Marie Kondo items that don’t spark joy anymore. Festivities are happening outdoors with parties, festivals, and markets in every town.
Being an expat, finding a community to celebrate the typical things from home can be difficult. For us Dutchies, there are a couple of typical annual Dutch celebrations. We celebrate Carnival 40 days before Easter (especially the Southern part of the country), King’s Day in April, Memorial Day and Liberation Day in May, St Martin in November, and St Nicholas in December. And, don’t get me started on the UEFA European Cup and FIFA World Cup (both soccer).
We are lucky enough to be in an area where there are Dutchies around. We even have a Dutch school and a Dutch store! How cool is that! That also means there is a wonderful community to celebrate King’s Day and St Nicholas together.
Our King’s Day Celebration
Celebrating King’s Day abroad actually means that we do a lot of traditional stuff. To be honest, I don’t even know what the celebration back home looks like anymore. I do love that I can give my children this gift of over the top Dutchness.
What an expat King’s Day celebration looks like:
- Everyone wears orange.
- Dutch food is widely available.
- Drinks are available, especially beer.
- Dutch music is played.
- Children organize their own yard sale.
- We play traditional Dutch games like nail pooping, cake and marshmallow snapping, grab in the barrel, can throwing, pin the pigtails on the Princess, and sjoelbakken.
- We participate in different races such as a can race, pass on the crown, tandem langlaufing, egg race, ruck of war, water run, and sack race.
- And, most people who join in the celebration speak Dutch.
It is a true cultural experience, and I love to be able to celebrate our culture! Every year we invite friends over, and I bet someday they will actually come and join us.
My husband tried to explain one of the Dutch games, the game of nail pooping, to his coworker the day before the celebration. It wasn’t successful. How would you describe an activity like this? See below.
When Queen’s Day Changed to King’s Day
King’s Day hasn’t always been King’s Day. When I was little, I grew up with Queen’s Day which we celebrated on April 30th. There is only a couple of days difference from our current King’s Day celebration. April 30th is the birthday of the King’s grandmother Queen Juliana. She reigned from 1948 to 1970. When King Willem Alexander became King in 2013, the celebration was changed to King’s Day, and the celebration started taking place on his birthday, April 27th.
Your National Celebration Away From Home
Now you’ve learned about one of my national celebrations. I am curious about yours. How do you celebrate a big day from your home country? Leave your answer in the comments!