Kingsday wasn’t what it’s supposed to be last year. There were no parties, and international students couldn’t learn the Dutch traditions. For a lot of students this meant that this year was their first time actually celebrating a Dutch holiday.

Wearing orange

Early in the evening, Nicky Hoekstra and Seyeon Kim were already fully in the orange spirit, sporting orange tops and cowboy hats. Though Nicky is half Dutch, her friend Seyeon didn’t know a lot about Kingsday before. She is a first year Arts and Culture student, so this was her first time celebrating. “I didn’t expect everyone to wear orange, but I love how they all do. Such a Dutch spirit, I love it”, Seyeon said.  “I come from South Korea and over there, I’ve never seen everyone wear the same colour for a holiday or something like that.”

Though she was wearing orange flowers around her neck, student Cielo Balagtas (Business Administration) also had no idea about Kingsday before. “Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a king before this, I just thought it was a random holiday”, she laughed. Last year, she celebrated Kingsday at Kralingse Plas with friends, but this year she was planning to go to Amsterdam or to the festival at Stadhuisplein.

More help from the university

Mattia Santagapita met zijn vrienden in de rij voor Huiskantine – Maxime van der Sande
Mattia Santagapita (left) with his friends in line for the club Image credit: Maxime van der Sande

For international students who didn’t know what Kingsday was about, it can be hard to know what to do on a day like this. Mattia Santagapita studies International Business Administration and wished there was some more organisation around Kingsday from the university. “I had no idea where to go or what to do. I think the university could have helped international students a little bit by giving more information about this holiday”, he explained.

Mattia is currently in his second year, so this wasn’t his first Kingsday in the Netherlands. However, last year, due to corona, it didn’t feel like a real holiday for him. “This year I feel like wearing orange as well to represent the Dutch culture and to integrate more into the Dutch society. I have bought an orange T-shirt, but I’m saving that for Kingsday”, he said.

Celebrating the people

When asked what he thinks Kingsday is about, Mattia said he thought it isn’t just a day to celebrate the king. “I feel like it is also about celebrating the people. The Dutch spirit embodies in this holiday as well. Everyone wearing orange shows that everyone cares.”

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