Dutch Language Blog

Dutch King’s Day – In Quarantine?! Posted by on Apr 27, 2020 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary, News

Today is Koningsdag (King’s Day), on which our koning (king) Willem-Alexander celebrates his 53rd verjaardag (birthday). An exciting day, where the entire country is on its feet, clothed in orange and ready to celebrate. The koning visits a town where he is welcomed and invited to join in with all kinds of activities. But… That’s not possible today, with quarantainemaatregelen (quarantine measures) in place to fend off the coronavirus. So how is the king’s verjaardag celebrated today?

Koningsdag wordt Woningsdag

Normally, Koningsdag is full of hustle and bustle. Vrijmarkten (“free markets”) are basically flea markets where people sell all kinds of things. The koning and his family visit a city in the country and follow a route (route), where they learn about the culture and traditions in that town through stories, games and performances. The route is filled to the brim with toeschouwers (spectators). And all of that is televised throughout the day.

On top of that, there are koningsfestivals (king festivals) organised all over the Netherlands. Famous Dutch DJs and musicians entertain crowds of thousands to celebrate the birthday of the monarch.

But now, in a time where the horeca (term including hotels, restaurants and catering) is pretty much closed until May 19, people are told to stay at home as much as possible and the words anderhalve meter afstand (one-and-a-half meter distance) is burned into everyone’s brains, a celebration like this is impossible.

But it’s still the verjaardag van de koning. So what’s the solution?

A clever play on words!


Instead of Koningsdag, we celebrate woningsdag (home day). So instead of going out, we all stay in and celebrate the verjaardag that way!

It has just started, with the kerkklokken (church bells) tolling at 9:45. At 10 am, it is time for the Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem. The idea is that everybody sings it from their balkon (balcony) or raam (window). That is also when the koning will speak a few words. There is even a sort of vrijmarkt online, where people can sell their things! And at 4 pm, it is time for the Nationale Toost (national toast). You just drink a glass at home, and through live streams and TV, you can connect to the rest of the country and the koning, of course.

Follow everything on this special website.

What will that all look like? The video above made by the staatsloterij (state lottery) gives a really nice impression, I think.

King’s Day in the Netherlands (image by Jannes Glas at Flickr.com under license BY 2.0)

Enjoy your woningsdag!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.