There’s a single day each year where the Dutch go crazy with patriotism. They throw huge parties, dress in neon orange, and shop at stores with holiday discounts. That day is King’s Day and it’s the birthday of the current King, Willem-Alexander. For one day, the entire country celebrates as one entity and it’s quite impressive to see. But as you can imagine, people must to stay indoors. No more wild parties and street vendors. A city also would host the royal family but that was cancelled too. So while, the festivities have been postponed, that doesn’t mean the spirit of the Dutch has been silenced.
Orange for days
Sander shocked me this morning when he wore a neon orange shirt. I do the laundry in the house but I had never seen that shirt before! It’s safe to say that while not all Dutch wear orange on King’s day, they at least have one article of clothing in that bright shade. It’s the same shade of a traffic cone and I can’t help but laugh when I think about it. It all goes back to the history and origin story of The Netherlands but that’s a tale for another day. Still, the Dutch go all out with orange.
And that neon doesn’t stop with clothing! From cookies and cakes to limited edition pastries, the Dutch have covered everything in their signature color. It’s like how Americans deck themselves out in red, white, and blue. Without showing their flag, you know exactly what’s going on. For us the bakeries are closed and that meant that Oranje Tompouce were in short supply. Our local grocery was sold out so I went with the next best thing, zoenen! These delicious chocolate covered marshmallows were everywhere! I know I said I don’t eat chocolate anymore but I made a small exception to try one. Super tasty for sure!
Flags on every pole
If there’s a flag pole, it’s got the Dutch flag and an orange wimpel. It’s a long, thin flag that flies on the best of occasions. The orange one goes up only for royal birthdays (the most important being King’s Day) but there are a few other varieties of wimpels too. Sander told me there’s a Dutch saying, “met vlag en wimpel” which has an equivalent for English speakers, “passing with flying colors.” I walked to the grocery store today almost every house had a flag and wimpel out. There were also orange banner flags, you know the small triangle ones that sit on a line. It’s so great to see pride that some people have for their country and it reminds me how I feel about American… Even through it’s up and downs, it’s still the place of my birth.
The lock down has been hard for a lot of people. I see many of the older neighbors forget to stand at a distance. The lack of communication with family and friends must be difficult for them. The same people who would stand out on the corner and talk for hours now can only wave at each other. I know Sander’s parents struggle sometimes. One of the neighbors put a sign in the hallway, that it would be nice if everyone could stand on their balcony at 4pm to share in a toast. It was a sweet gesture and a sign that things are bad now but they will get better.