As a small kid I experienced every 30th of April as the day people went out. There were and there still are many reasons to do so. The only change is that Queen Beatrix passed on the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in 2013. Thus this year and all following years the date is now the 26th of April.
For me the best part of this particular day is the flea market. Maybe it is very typical for many Dutch people. Thing is from what I have seen at every flea market in the Netherlands is that many Dutchies, me included do not like to throw away something that is still useful. Whenever something is out of use, it is often passed on or sold second-hand. Virtue and economy meet on many Dutch flea markets.
The second reason to go out on Kingsday is simply for being there among the people. It is the kind of day where everyone just wants to have fun, usually dressed in orange and celebrate a “gezellige” afternoon. There is only one word for the people and good spirits on Kingsday and that word is “gezelligheid” for me. Of course being in good company here is a condition.
The third reason for going is making it a big carnival. The night before many parties and events start. Thus themed parties and events kick off the actual Kingsday often combined with costumes and drinking. Beer is the most popular beverage by far. In the Netherlands big events and drinking beer are mostly inseparable.
Another way to look at Kingsday is less royal and more “Willem”. As our King is named “Willem”, every man named “Willem” can now rightfully claim Kingsday as his second day of personal celebration. Sure enough there is no attractive Argentinian woman included. Some men might prefer men but the fact remains. For every man named “Willem” there is a second day in the year to celebrate having that name.
Whatever one can make of Kingsday now, it makes modern society look more human. Instead of “consume! work! consume!” one is encouraged to simply enjoy being among others celebrating an old tradition that connects a monarch to its people. There is no substitute for “gezelligheid”…