Halloween in Holland

Halloween-in-Holland
When we do Halloween in Holland, we do it right!

Our annual Halloween in Holland party was a hit again this year. It’s fun to see how things have changed since we started. The first time we had the party was right before our wedding and, since I didn’t know anyone here at that point, they were all Hubs’ friends.

Halloween isn’t so much done in the Netherlands. Kids here go door-to-door asking for candy on November 11 for Sint Maarten’s and the Dutch (mostly just the adults) do their dressing up for Carnival. So Halloween in Holland hasn’t really caught on.

Despite all that, it’s Hubs’ favorite holiday. And what better excuse to go all out and make your friends participate than an American (future) wife? So we spookified his apartment, filled a table with creepy hors d’oeuvres, and put together some seriously awesome costumes.

I was still living in the States at the time, so I went to Party City for a Deluxe Scooby-Doo costume for Hubs. I went as Velma, with red Mary Janes from my years at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, an orange sweater and above-the-knee red skirt from Goodwill, white-dyed-orange soccer socks from high school, and a bob wig and thick-rimmed glasses from Charelle’s Costume shop in Frederick, Maryland.

No one else on the invitation list had any idea (a) how to celebrate Halloween, (b) what to do for costumes, or (c) how seriously Hubs was going to take the whole thing. One guest wore an old bomber jacket, another pulled a straw hat from her grandmother’s attic, and a third picked up a police hat and plastic badge from the local party store on his way over.

Now, though, they’ve caught on. And they’re giving Hubs a run for his money. They’re literally gathering amongst themselves and plotting how to outdo us! It’s been super fun to see and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

We also made it out to the International Women’s Contact Halloween party for the first time. I was asked to come as a fortune teller and read fortunes for children during the party, and Hubs came along as Scooby-Doo to help out.

We’re now preparing for Thanksgiving and the coinciding visit from my parents next week. I more than likely won’t have the chance to post before December, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from the Jansens!

Until next time!

Is Halloween celebrated in your new country? How have you managed to celebrate (or having to celebrate)?

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Reflecting on Queen’s Day 2009

Oranje pride on Queen's Day in the Netherlands
A very orange street musician shows her Dutch pride on Queen’s Day

Koning is Dutch for king and Koningin is Dutch for queen. Koninginnedag (or Queen’s Day) is a national holiday in the Netherlands celebrating the Queen’s birthday.

Not the current Queen Beatrix’s birthday, which is in January, but that of her mother Juliana. Juliana was born on the 30th of April when the weather in Holland tends to be significantly better than during the winter months

She was known to have ridden her bicycle among her people with little to no security. Her subjects were even permitted to stroll right up and give her a peck on the cheek! This way, the cloggie royalty came to be known as “the cycling monarchy.”

Always available to the public, the royal family has continued to not only attend, but participate in Queen’s Day festivities: playing games and dancing as if they too were part of the crowd.

Celebrations begin on April 29th with Koninginnenacht, or “Queen’s Day Eve,” if you will. City centers all over the country are closed off from cars and bikes (the latter unless you like to live dangerously) and people swarm in to set up camp.

Camp? Yes, they head in early to ensure a place in front of houses, canals, buildings, and in parks to set up their wares. Because what is Konninginnedag if not an excuse to sell all your unwanted items? If you choose to visit the Netherlands on the 29th or 30th of April, be prepared to enter Flea Market Heaven (or hell, depending on how you feel about this pastime).

In addition to the sales is scores of live music and loads of drinking. Food and beverage tents and caravans litter the city, and pubs set up shop outside to sell beer on the streets. That way you can enjoy a brew and a snack as you peruse the rummage sales! Bands leaving much to be desired entertain the masses everywhere you turn, and DJs fill the spaces between. But most importantly, everyone is dressed in orange.

My husband and I had Dutch pancakes (pannekoeken) with friends on Koninginnenacht and then headed out into town for an evening of beer, music, and sales.

The next day, we popped over to the Rummelmarkt (yard sale) in Juliana Park and bought some great makeshift toys for the dog. He now has his very own stuffed version of Holland’s mascot Loeki the Lion. Then we headed back into the city center for a nice, ‘healthy’ lunch of patat (fries typically smothered in mayonnaise) and beer, looked around some more at the sales, and listened to several street bands. It was amazing to see so many people squeezed into the streets and canals.

Each year on Koninginnedag, the Royal Family chooses a city in Holland to visit. This year, they graced Appeldoorn with their presence. But everything went horribly wrong.

As per usual, the royal family began with their parade through the town by bus, when a car broke through the police barricades and the crowd, careening toward the bus. Just in the nick of time, the car inexplicably veered off it’s course and crashed into De Naald monument in the center of the square, stopping it dead in it’s tracks. The royal family was rushed to Paleis Het Loo and immediately put under lock-down.

Eight people were killed including the driver of the vehicle, identified as Karst Tates, who passed away in the hospital before anyone could question him. Before falling into a coma at the scene of the accident, he did confess to having planned the attack on the royal family, with crowned prince Willem-Alexander as his primary target.

Prior to these unfortunate events, Tates had lost his job as a security guard and was in heavy financial trouble. His apartment had been seized and sold, and the new family was to move in the following day. It was also reported that he was divorced and being kept from his children.

It has been concluded that he planned and carried out the attack alone. Authorities have yet to determine a motive. While taking his own life as well as the lives of seven others, Tates did not succeed in altering the relaxed lifestyle of the House of Orange, which plans to continue to enjoy many a Queen’s Day to come.

Read more about the tragedy here.

Have you ever experienced Queen’s Day in the Netherlands? If so, what was it like?

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