Celebrating in Orange, Red, White or Blue

I’m always impressed by the love that people show their country, especially on their National Day. Of course I am talking patriotism not jingoism, which is it’s evil twin!

Being a Brit I’m doubly impressed by a population’s ability to stand proud for one day a year and celebrate their nation, whether it is their royalty, their independence or their national saint. The English don’t celebrate on a specific annual day, although you would think the day we’d fly the flag would be on our national saints day, St George’s Day on the 23rd April. The Scots celebrate St Andrew’s Day, the Irish St Patrick’s Day and the Welsh St David’s Day with traditional food and national costume, parades and flag waving. The English have never had that. We celebrate with enthusiasm and spontaneity when our national sports teams are playing; our royal family has a wedding or the Queen an anniversary or notable birthday. We did a fantastic job showing our patriotic side when we hosted the Olympics in 2012, and I loved to see my country celebrating its rich history and diversity.

Having lived in the USA I have also seen that country at it’s most patriotic. Of course no orange in sight, it’s all red, white and blue and the cause for celebration is not it’s royal heritage but rather the lack of it, as they are celebrating their independence from Great Britain. When the Declaration Of Independence was signed in 1776 the Founding Fathers realized the importance of good weather for celebrations so they chose July 4th. Great foresight! No free markets but time for BBQ’s, parades, the reenactment of the signing of the declaration, baseball games and fireworks, the bigger the display the better.

Just last month we witnessed the Dutch celebration, which comes under the guise of King’s Day. The Dutch do know how to throw a good party and, despite the winter temperatures this year, they once again depleted the stores of orange clothing. The Netherlands shows it’s trading past with the vrijmarkt, (free market) when everyone’s past is put out on display in the hope that someone else will find it a home, and the streets are full of music and people. An interesting statistic from the broadcaster Nos shows that the Dutch monarchy popularity is at it’s lowest since 2008, but they are a young monarchy, having only become a kingdom in 1815, so they have time yet to turn their popularity around! I do hope so, as the Netherlands celebrating King or Queen’s Day is a wild, fun and orange experience on a chilly spring day.

Being an expat on these days can make you feel secluded, watching the locals bound together by their patriotism, but from my experience the best action is to grab a flag, an orange feather boa or wear a patriotic t-shirt, and embrace their loyalty and joy. You can never feel secluded when orange festooned Dutch people, all celebrating with such merriment, surround you!


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