Saturday, May 26, 2012

Queen's Day and the beginning of summer

Wow, it's been so busy here, I can't believe i haven't posted since February. It's finally summer, and it all started with Queen's Day, on April 30th. We were incredibly lucky for the weather - it was clear and warm! (and strangely, the Sunday before, and the Tuesday after worth both miserable days...)

A little history about Queen's Day: it's probably the biggest public holiday in the Netherlands, celebrating the birthday of the last Queen (since the current's Queen's birthday is sometime in winter!). Everybody wears orange clothes (the official name of the Dutch royalty is the House of Oranje (orange), which is related to William of Orange in the UK, for those who remember their European history, who became King William (with Queen Mary) in England)

First, celebrations start with Queen's night, where lots of bands are playing, and people are already out partying, having fun, dressed in funny hats and anything orange, and buildings are decorated with Dutch flags and red/white/blue stripes. 

Queen's day is a huge celebration, especially in Amsterdam. Everybody is outside wearing orange! Who knew that clothing companies would even make that many clothes in that color! (maybe only for people in NL?)

Also, one of the unique things about Queen's Day: is that she grants free permission for anyone to sell things openly. It's like a fun garage sale, people are selling their old clothes, records, home-cooked food, etc. People will even mark/reserve their spots on the pavements even days before Queen's Day

And, although this year the bands were mainly moved outside of the city center, there's still lots of music, especially in the floating barges/boats that are travelling around the canals, with their own DJ's, and pumping out loud dance music...(check out the YouTube video...)

Luckily, I came equipped with my Dutch/German week orange INSEAD polo-shirt, and Douwe-Egberts (local Dutch coffee company) was giving out these fantastic orange fedoras to complete my Queen's Day outfit.

The Dutch were really festive, and it was something comparable to Carnival in Den Bosch. It's an interesting comparison, because I think people in North Holland particularly like their regels (rules), and it's funny to see for 1 day, all the regels are disregarded... and very quickly, by the end of Queen's Day, the streets are being cleaned, and everything is back in order by the following day! So rRemarkably efficient, as if the rules can only be "broken" for only one day, but then everything needs to be back in order!

It was a great and hilarious experience, thanks to my INSEAD and hospital friends for making the day special! Definitely worth coming back to NL just for the experience...