In the Kingdom of the Netherlands the Koningsdag (King’s Day) is not only a national holiday, but it is the celebration of the King’s Birthday. King Willem-Alexander’s birthday is on the 27th of April, which is why this day is celebrated by the whole nation.
How the Dutch celebrate King’s Day
Festivals, flea markets, and beer! The Dutch love to celebrate this day in a proper manner. Not only do they enjoy the music and cold drinks at music festivals but they also organize flea markets where young and old sell their precious belongings to others. Children organize fun games like Spijkerpoepen, koekhappen, or tombola (Google them, to see some funny videos).
History of King’s Day
On the 31st of August in 1885 the King’s Day found its origin in the Prinsessendag (Princess’s Day). The Dutch celebrated the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, future heir of the throne. After her accession in 1890 the day was renamed to Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). 1948 Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana ascended and the Koninginnedag was from then on celebrated on Queen Juliana’s birthday on the 30th of April from 1949 on. Her daughter, Queen Beatrix, kept the celebration on her mothers birthday instead of her own (31st of January). Queen Beatrix started the still ongoing tradition of the royal family visiting a different Dutch city every year. Since 2013, the Koninginnedag has been called the Koningsdag because King Willem-Alexander ascended.
King’s Day in other cultures
As special as King’s Day is to the Dutch, other countries also celebrate their leaders with big parties, festivals, and traditions. The Belgians have commemorated the King’s Feast on November 15th since 1866. Even though it is not a national holiday, the parliament organizes a ceremony in presence of the royal family. In Japan, the Emperor’s birthday is celebrated as a national holiday on February 23rd. The Luxembourgish national holiday on June 23rd is said to commemorate the Grand Duke’s Official Birthday, even though this day never was any duke’s or duchess’s birthday.