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In Holland, this time of year brings out the tulips. Almost every roundabout in Amsterdam has a grassy area in the center island blanketed with tulips. Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday were all public holidays observed earlier this month. The huge civic celebration later in April is King’s Day. Formerly known as Queen’s Day, King Willem-Alexander is the first male monarch since the holiday originated.
Queen’s Day (‘Koninginnedag’ in Dutch) began as a celebration of the Princess Wilhelmina’s birthday on August 31, 1885, when the royal daughter was only 5 years old. Then it was known as Prinsessedag (Princess Day). When she ascended the throne in 1890, the name changed to Queen’s Day and was celebrated across the entire land.
In 1949, Wilhelmina’s daughter became Queen Juliana, and the date was changed to the new queen’s birthday, the 30th of April. Queen Beatrix, Juliana’s daughter, continued to celebrate Queen’s Day on the 30th to honor her mother. When Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother Beatrix two years ago when she abdicated, the day became King’s Day and moved to his birthday, April 27. In Dutch, it is known as Koningsdag.
The night before the celebration, revelers fill the streets to dance and sing. Many residents prepare their trinkets and used belongings for the free market in the morning. Walking along, their wares are spread on blankets a là garage-sale style along every street corner and canal side. Orange is the color of the day, of course. Music performances are held in every park and plein (square) across the country, with dancing and singing. The day brings everyone together as part of the Dutch community.