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King’s Day in the Netherlands

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A normal outfit on Kings Day 

America has July 4th, and the Dutch have King’s Day. King’s Day (Koningsdag in Dutch) is the biggest national holiday that is celebrated within the Netherlands. On April 27 every year, the Dutch put on their best orange outfit, and get ready to celebrate the birth of Willem-Alexander. Fun Fact: the date of King’s/Queen’s Day changes depending on when the birthday is of the King or Queen.

Embed from Getty Images This is the King of the Netherlands

So for those of you that don’t know much history behind the royal family, here’s a tiny history lesson. The tradition of King’s/Queen’s day was started on August 31, 1885 to celebrate the birth of Queen Wilhelmina. It is a tradition that has lived on since. Every time a new King or Queen succeeds the thrown, the date changes and the name goes back and forth between King’s Day and Queens Day. Growing up I always celebrated Queen’s Day because Queen Beatrix was at the head of the royal family. Last year Willem-Alexander succeeded the thrown, so it has changed dates and is now Kings Day in honor of him.

King’s Day is a huge party all around the Netherlands. Everywhere you look you see Orange, Dutch flags, and probably a good amount of Heineken. Festivals are thrown all around the country and the canals in Amsterdam are filled completely with Dutch people who have come to celebrate their amazing country. The whole country basically parties all day. The royal family even celebrates and goes on tours around the country visiting different Dutch towns.

The canals filled with Dutch people celebrating Kings Day

The partying doesn’t only happen on the 27th though. Many Dutch people will go out on the eve of the 26th, and go to clubs and concerts that have organized special events just for King’s Day and start celebrating early. The Dutch call it King’s Night.

If your wondering why the color orange literally takes over the country on April 27, then here’s your answer. The national color of the Netherlands is orange. Orange symbolizes the royal family, so what better color to wear when celebrating the birth of one. The Dutch are experts at making the best orange outfits.

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A beautifully constructed orange outfit for Kings Day 

Kings Day is about so much more then just celebrating the birthday of Willem-Alexander. It is a day when the Dutch all come together and celebrate their country and everything they love about it. The Dutch have a lot of pride in their country, and that can not be more obvious then on Kings Day.

Plus the awesome orange outfits, and the parties are a perk too.

It's most definitely a perk.
It’s most definitely a perk. Photo taken by: Hinde Kast
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Holland International Market in Bellflower Re-Opens!

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After 71 years of being in business,  the unexpected closure of the Dutch store Holland American this past summer broke the hearts of many Dutch people. But for all my Dutchies out there, I have some great news… the Holland American store is back and better than ever. Maria Cervantes, who had worked for the Holland American store for 14 years, reopened the store in a smaller location in Bellflower and renamed it Holland International Market. Holland International Market had their grand re-opening on November 1, 2014. Members of the Dutch community came out to celebrate the return.

Dutch community excited about the re-opening of the store
Dutch community excited about the re-opening of the store
Store filled with excited people getting ready to buy their Dutch goodies.
Store filled with excited people getting ready to buy their Dutch goodies.

The Holland American Dutch store was established in 1943, and it looks like it’s here to stay. With Sinterklaas coming up (14 days away…yay), every Dutch person is going to be in dire need of pepernoten, speculaas, chocolate letters, chocolate figures of Sinterklaas, and all other kinds of delicious Dutch food.

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Holland International Market is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. It accepts cash and credit. Go and check them out, you won’t regret it.

All photos taken by Martin Kast

Tis the Season of Sinterklaas

As the end of November is approaching, the Dutch are getting excited for one thing: Sinterklaas! And trust me I’m counting down the days… 19 days left!

On December 5, the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Christmas. Sinterklaas is the saint of children.  He wears red bishop’s clothes, has white hair and a long white beard, and rides a white horse. Fun fact: Santa Claus was based on Sinterklaas. Can you see the resemblance?

*Here’s what Sinterklaas looks like*

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*Here’s a picture of Santa Claus for your reference*

Sinterklaas’s helpers, the Zwarte Pieten ( Black Petes), help him deliver presents to all the Dutch children. However, there is currently a huge controversy in the Netherlands regarding Zwarte Pieten. Some consider Zwarte Pieten to be racist, so colored(pink, purple, blue) Pieten are becoming more prevalent.

*This is what the Zwarte Pieten look like*

A week before December 5, Dutch children put their klompen (Dutch clogs) by the fireplace and leave carrots in them for Sinterklaas’s horse. Throughout the night, Sinterklaas and his Pieten will come and leave little surprises. The next day the kids awaken to a small present, or pepernoten in their klompen.  On the night of December 5, Sinterklaas and his Pieten pay a visit to all the Dutch children around the world. The kids and their families will sit around the living room and sing all different kinds of Sinterklaas songs at the top of their lungs, hoping to get his attention while eating pepernoten and speculaus!

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*You can’t have Sinterklaas without a lot of pepernoten*

*In the spirit of Sinterklaas, here’s a picture of presents in a potato bag*

*In this song, the children are asking Sinterklaas to leave them a present in their shoe*

*This song is sung when Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands. The children are asking him to visit them*

Then all the sudden there will be a knock on the door, and a big bag of presents will be waiting at the front step. And if you look quickly enough, you can catch a glimpse of Sinterklaas riding off on his horse in the distance. I must have never looked fast enough, because I always just missed him.

Be careful though, Sinterklaas has a large red book with the name of every Dutch child in it. It tells him what you have been up to and if you have been good or bad. I suggest you behave, because if not, you’ll end up with a large piece of coal in your shoe.

On December 6, the kids have a chance to see Sinterklaas and his Pieten in real life as they arrive to Holland in a steamboat from Spain.

The Dutch School Los Angeles is hosting their own Sinterklaas celebration at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro on Sunday December 7, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For children under 12 the entry fee is $25, and for everyone else it is $20. Sinterklaas and his colored Pieten will be there! This event will have all sorts of Dutch activities, food, and presents for the kids from Sinterklaas. It will be the place to be for all Dutchies and Dutch enthusiasts. I know where I’ll be on December 7!

Dank u Sinterklaasje!

*This is a goodbye song for Sinterklaas*

A Tribute to the Victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

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On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 left from Amsterdam and was on its way to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down in Ukraine. Two hundred and eighty three passengers and fifteen crew members lost their lives. One hundred and ninety three of these passengers were Dutch. July 17, 2014 will always be a day of mourning for the Dutch culture.

The Dutch held a national memorial (Nationale Herdenking MH17) today in the RAI in Amsterdam. With a heavy heart, the royal family and 1600 hundred people came to pay their respects and remember all the innocent victims that lost their lives in the Malaysia Airlines flight 17.  In this beautiful tribute children quietly placed flowers around 298 candles, each representing a victim that lost their life in this tragedy.

The bodies of Dutch victims are continuously being found and brought back to the Netherlands. Recently on November 8, the remains of five more victims were brought back home to the Netherlands. For all the victims found and the nine victims that are still unaccounted for, I would like to pay my respect and give a tribute to their lives. Never forget all the victims that lost their lives on July 17.

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Kinderboekenweek in America

Embed from Getty Images In the spirit of Kinderboekenweek, here is a picture of a child surrounded by books

Every year the Netherlands celebrates the children of their country with a week called Kinderboekenweek (children’s book week). During this week the Dutch come together to celebrate children’s books. Many newly published children’s books are released and people donate children’s books to Dutch schools and libraries. Now this annual tradition has found its way to America.

The Dutch School Los Angeles, located in North Hollywood, put on their own Kinderboekenweek. On October 25, the Dutch community came together and donated almost 200 books to the school. The students can now use these books in their classes and check them out to read at home.

People participated in various activities at this Dutch festivity. There was tug of war, bobbing for apples, and a Dutch game known as koekhappen. In this game you hang a Dutch spiced bread (ontbijtkoek) from a string and you have to try and yank it off the string with only your mouth. It takes some true Dutch talent to complete it!

So here’s to celebrating Dutch children’s books!

bottom two photos taken by: Martin Kast

Orange Has Never Looked So Good!

Embed from Getty Images -The Dutch making orange look good!-

To most people out there, orange is just a tacky Halloween color or a piece of fruit, but to the Dutch, it is so much more. Everyone always wonders: Why do the Dutch wear so much orange and how do they make it look so good? Well let me tell you.

Some countries go with purple to represent their royal family, but not The Netherlands. In The Netherlands, the royal family is the Huis van Oranje-Nassau (The House of Orange-Nassau), and orange is the symbol for the royal family. But to the Dutch, the color orange has become so much more than that. It symbolizes our culture, our history, our national anthem, and our everlasting Dutch pride. You may think we are obsessed with the color (and you may be right), but we are proud to represent orange wherever we go.

To me, orange symbolizes my home, my family, my culture, and a country that I feel honored to be a part of. The Dutch will always display their national color proudly and will look AMAZING while doing so.

See I told you we look AMAZING when we wear orange!
See I told you we look AMAZING when we wear orange!

Photo Taken By: Sylvia Kast

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