Today is Kingsday in the Netherlands – the annual Dutch celebration of the birthday of their porky-pink, unelected head of state – who does very little actual work, gets paid an absolute fortune and who costs the taxpayer mountains of money. (I didn’t mind his predecessor but I’m not a fan of the current incumbent).
It’s a wildly entertaining day.
I know that the official reason for the celebration is to pay tribute to the monarchy (conveniently ignoring the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives in defence of said monarchy over the centuries) but that can all be ignored.
It’s better to focus simply on the fact that on this day, the country (well Amsterdam at least) grinds to a halt and the entire town becomes a supersized flea market and street party.
In the week running up to the day, masking tape is applied in a rectangular shapes to the side of the footpath to alert one’s neighbours that the enclosed space is ‘BEZET’ – or ‘taken’. And that on the morning of Kingsday (or Queensday as it was until Queen Bea retired a few years ago) you bring all your unwanted junk to said space and you try to flog it (while sinking a few frosty bad boys at the same time).
There are designated areas where live music is performed. The Vondelpark is the place where parents bring their children to keep them somewhat separate from the lunacy of the city.
Everybody wears as much orange as they can find in their wardrobe – I had an orange t-shirt for about ten years, which I only ever wore on that one day of the year.
It takes about an hour to walk a distance that should normally take ten minutes.
It is wiser not to make plans to meet people at specific places or at specific times as it is too chaotic to organise – the wiser choice is to meet at someone’s house before venturing into the mayhem.
Every year it is the same. Every year it is wonderful.
This the second consecutive year I have missed it, having attended the previous fourteen. This year because I am in Ireland on an industrial estate. Last year I skipped it as I had the opportunity to take my maiden voyage to Berlin – and having just sold my apartment I thought it wiser to go to travel to Berlin while I still lived in the Dam.
Happy Kingsday everyone.
Long live the Republic..