Crazy King's Day
When I heard about Koningsdag for the first time I naturally compared it to our Independence Day in Estonia as it seemed to be the most similar holiday. It’s funny how wrong I was. Of course, we also don’t have to work on this day in Estonia. We usually spend most of the day home with the family, besides maybe having a little walk outside to enjoy our beautiful country. The people in the capital can also look at the parade of our (small) army and hear speeches from our president and other important people. The biggest event is probably in the evening when the president has a ball for the citizens who have accomplished something noteworthy during the year. Many people watch this ball at home from their TV’s and comment on the outfits that the noteworthy people have. The holiday is fairly modest, but still special to us Estonians.
The Dutch just f’n party. It’s madness. On Saturday, the King’s Day, I arrived to the city around 2pm and it was full of orange people with beer in their hand. At Grote Markt, the orange people with beer were dancing in front of a stage. I’ve only seen something similar at music festivals, and you know how crazy music festivals can get. What I haven’t seen in front of a stage at music festivals are mothers with their kids in a trolley in the middle of all the partying people. I saw this several times at Grote Markt. As that wasn’t enough, I saw an old woman with a walker going through the crowd in front of the stage. Although I’m not sure about how this affects the health of the child in a trolley or of the woman with the walker, it is not up to me to decide. And that’s the beauty of The Netherlands – people accept that it’s not up to them to say what one person should or shouldn’t do. However, everyone should party on King’s Day.
There were several other stages set up around Groningen and there were people everywhere. Mostly in orange. King’s Day is also the day for its nationwide vrijmarkt which means people sell their secondhand stuff. It’s a good place to get something orange for the day. Being orange is important to feel part of the festivities because that’s what it’s all about. People feel that they belong. Because people gather to bigger cities to party on this day, like Groningen as it’s the capital of the province, King’s Day events have to end around 9pm so people could still get home with public transport. That’s why people start partying already the night before which has become to be known as the King’s Night.
So basically, grab a beer(or ten), paint yourself orange and party for 24 hours.