Kings Day in Amsteram

Charlie (Charles) McDowell
April 30, 2017

One of the things I was told to be prepared for while spending my spring semester in Amsterdam was the celebration of Kings Day. And what is King’s Day? It’s pretty much what the name makes it out to be: a nation wide party to celebrate King Willem-Alexander, the crowned king of the Netherlands’ birthday. I wish I was making this up, but more than that, I wish we had a King’s Day in America.

King’s Day (originally Queen’s Day) was first celebrated in 1885 in honor of the birth of Queen Wilhelmina, and has since been passed down from Queen to Queen until in 2014, King Willem-Alexander took on the tradition and officially changed the day to King’s Day in honor of his birthday. In celebration, the whole nation dresses in orange as a patronage to the House of Orange-Nassau, which is the house of the Dutch Royal family.

Instead of waking up at seven in the morning to prepare for my nine am lecture, I woke up at seven thirty to prepare for the group breakfast that over 20 people attended to celebrate before we went into the city to celebrate. Already I was excited that instead of trying to piece together information from my lectures I was allowed to take a day off and focus on making french toast, surveying the potluck, complimenting others on their orange wear, and sipping my mimosa.

I’m still not sure what entirely inspired King’s Day to be the celebration it was. There really is nothing comparable to it in the United States. While it seems that St. Patrick’s day or the Fourth of July in Chicago is similar in that everyone wears one color scheme and spends the day partying in the streets and causing traffic, there is a lack of something that King’s Day had. The streets of Amsterdam were lined with street vendors, makeshift markets, and festivals. The canals were flooded with people on boats blasting music and partying up. The entire city seemed to be covered in orange, and something about it came alive.

I didn’t stay in the city for too long. We left around 11:30 and were back to our dorms around 5:30. I did not go to any of the music festivals, nor did I end up going out that night like I had planned. Most of my day was just walking around with friends, looking at street vendors, or sitting on the canals and enjoying the sun when it was out. I can not say that I learned too much about Dutch culture, from this day, but I’m definitely glad that I had it. Something about the city seemed to mesh together. There was less concern over where to go or what to do, everyone was equally as calm simply walking around the streets and having fun.

I’m going to miss King’s Day a little bit. I’m going to miss the thin excuse for a whole nation to come together and celebrate. I’m going to miss not having class in the middle of term for no reason. And I’m going to miss how carefree the day was. I guess this is one real “culture shock” moment for me, but it is not a bad sort of shock. I really enjoyed the day and the traditions within it. I’m actually sad that America doesn’t have a King’s Day to celebrate, but I’m lucky that I was able to have this experience.

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Charlie (Charles) McDowell

<p>I am a 20 year old Psychology and Intercultural Studies major escaping the suburbs of Chicago in search of an adventure. I can be found reading or writing most of the time, and love to talk to people. I&#39;ve been daydreaming of traveling the world since I was a child, and am so excited that the time for that is finally here! Thank you for stopping by, I hope my stories are as helpful to you as these moments were for me.</p>

2017 Spring
Home University:
Elmhurst University
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