Monday, 11 June 2007

Word of the day

Today's word is Queen Day, or in Dutch, Koninginnedag. I was reminded today of my delight when I first encountered Queen Day. Each year on this day, now April 30, the Dutch celebrate their Queen's birthday. Over time, the celebration has come to incorporate a much wider range of activities than a simple birthday for the Queen.

On Queen Day, Dutch people have a national
vrijmarkt, which means that they can sell anything in the street that day and also on koniginnenacht (the night before). It is also an occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour orange is worn or otherwise used in a wide range of settings - "orange banners, orange colored foods and drinks, and extreme amounts of orange clothing and creative accessories are worn as well. Sometimes even the water in fountains is dyed orange", according to the Wikipedia. The Wikipedia goes on "it is not uncommon for people to impersonate the queen, not always in a flattering manner."

Although the Wikipedia article describes the Queen's Official Birthday in Commonwealth countries, such as ours, as "a similar occasion", I'm afraid that the reverse is true. The Queen's Birthday, as celebrated in Australia, is our dullest public holiday. The only specific celebration is poring through the Queen's birthday honours list in the newspapers to look for the names of friends and relatives or, more likely, remote acquaintances. What can we do? Suggestions are most welcome and will be conveyed to the appropriate authorities.


CW said...

Hi Derek, perhaps the fact that the Queen's Birthday is nothing more than just-another-public-holiday here is because so many of us these days don't relate to Elizabeth II as "ours" in any way. Elizabeth seems like a distant irrelevancy, whereas for the Dutch their Koningin Beatrix (and royal family) remains a vital part of their culture and national history. No offense intended, of course!

Derek Whitehead said...

Thank you CW, I agree with you. This is why I would like to replace Queen's Birthday with Wattle Day (1 September). But that's a long story.

A Dutch reader of this blog writes: "Holland isn't a place for introverts. On the aforesaid koninginnedag, the native go 'out of their roofs' to translate literally an expression which essentially means 'they
live it up big time' or 'they fail to adhere to conventional norms of
behaviour', depending on your particular perspective."

Perhaps we could learn from this when we replace Queen's Birthday, although we might make more allowance for interoverts.

CW said...

Hmmm, Wattle Day? I need to learn more :)