Queen's Day, Netherlands
Today, the blaring of horns is not a traffic jam. Drivers are celebrating the Dutch national holiday, Queen's Day.
“We celebrate the birthday of the Queen,” explains an Alblasserdam resident. “Actually, it's the birthday of her mother. She kept the 30th of April as Queen's Day as a remembrance of her mother.
|Big rigs parade around the city of Ridderkerk, their horns echoing through the neighborhoods.|
It has been celebrated in this way during Queen Beatrix's 33 year reign. However, next year will be different. Today Beatrix will step down and her son Willem-Alexander is to become king, the first Dutch king in 123 years. Maxima, of Argentina, is his queen.
Many Dutch remember Queen Beatrix's reign fondly. “They have a lot to live up to. The legacy they are inheriting is significant.”
|Queen Beatrix on the Dutch Euro coin.|
The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, and Dutch royalty has no official political power. However, unofficially, they have influence through their relationships with other monarchies and world leaders. Hearkening back to the country's roots in trade and commerce, the resident remarks, “The other thing, why it's important to have a monarchy, is we are a very small country. Our biggest asset is trade. You do business with friends.”
Many houses display the Dutch flag today.
|Orange clothes are worn in honor of the House of Orange.|
In line with the tradition of commerce, a typical Queen's Day event is community rummage sales where anyone can lay out their used items to sell. The town of Ridderkerk has organized several such sales, where one can find everything from an antique sewing machine to a bucket full of smurfs. A large screen is set up in the city center, showing the coronation ceremony as it happens in Amsterdam.
|One man's trash is another man's treasure.|
|Ridderkerk city center.|