Holidays

A day to sell all of your stuff (Or: King’s Day)

So last time I talked about King’s Night, which is when you go to music festivals, drink overpriced beer, and dance like a maniac. Oh, and try to avoid being pickpocketed–apparently the police found a 13 year old and 20 year old with a bag full of 21 stolen telephones on King’s Day (article in Dutch over at omroepwest.nl). Sheesh.

In contrast, King’s Day itself is about selling cheap stuff. This is the one day a year it is legal for anyone to sell their old furniture, toys, books, you name it. Well, anything except food. Almost all cities ban that. I didn’t get any photos of these vrijmarkten (free markets) this year, but check out my post from way back in 2012 (!). Back when it was Queen’s Day, before she abdicated the throne and became Princess Beatrix. Marco took those photos for me since I was till living in America back then.

One thing I did get photos of was the flower sale at the Lange Voorhout. It was quite colorful, and not just because of the flowers:

These juichcapes (cheer capes) were sold by the grocery chain Jumbo last summer when there were a lot of high profile sporting events going on (Tour de France, Dutch Grand Prix, UEFA Euro Cup, etc.).

Lots of color here too!

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The Life I Live festival 2022 (Or: King’s Night in The Hague)

Tonight is the 10th anniversary of The Life I Live festival. Note: their website is definitely experiencing server capacity issues, so it is a bit hit or miss to visit it right now.

The last edition was of course in 2019. It is held in The Hague’s city centre, with musical acts spread out over about 8-10 stages. The opener this year was the Ukrainian band Go_A. Last year they participated in the Eurovision Song festival held in Rotterdam. This year the band got special permission from the Ukrainian government to travel to The Hague to perform (as technically Ukrainian men are not supposed to leave Ukraine right now).

This stage was at the Lange Voorhout not far from the Escher museum and Hotel Des Indes.

This smaller stage was on the opposite end of the Lange Voorhout, featuring the band Kuzko. I didn’t stay long, but they really brought the bass! It was a weird feeling to feel the bass after not going to any concerts the last two years.

King’s Night (and more accurately King’s Day) is a holiday to celebrate the birth of the Dutch King Willem Alexander who turns 55 tomorrow. The joke “Max komt misschien later…” is a joke that Max Verstappen, the 2021 F1 world champion, might stop by here later. Hmm.

(Man, I still remember when it was weird to see Willem Alexander with a beard!)

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King’s Day 2022 (Or: Do you have your “orange” yet?)

This coming Wednesday is King’s Day here in the Netherlands, a public holiday for most of us. The larger Dutch cities like The Hague and Amsterdam also have parties to celebrate. The Hague has “The Life I Live” festival (official website in Dutch) traditionally held the evening before, dubbed King’s Night. This free musical festival is held throughout the city centre. This year there are 8 small stages for artists to perform. The Ukrainian band Go_A will open the festival.

I suspect things will get a bit insane Tuesday evening as the event has not been held for the last two years due to corona. The 2019 edition drew 275,000 visitors for those two days (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch), so it will be interesting to see how many we get this year. The local transportation company HTM runs an alternate route due to how congested the city centre gets. (I must admit it is kind of fun to walk down the middle of the street and not worry about cars or trams.) HTM and the national train service will also add extra night buses and trains to help everyone get home at the end of the evening.

But why did I mention orange in this post’s title? Because everyone wears orange, of course! Well, the tourists and the diehard Dutchies do, at any rate. Here is a look at the King’s Day merchandise at Xenos:

See also my post about King’s Day 2018.

Anyone else remember the attempt to rename Koningsdag to Woningsdag for the first year of the pandemic? Woning = home, so it was an attempt to be clever and tell people to be safe and celebrate the holiday from home.

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Old finds at Xenos (Or: Sinterklaas chocolate letters in January)

Back on the day that stores were allowed to reopen (January 15) I saw a curious find at Xenos. Xenos is a national chain here in The Netherlands. The Dutch Wikipedia page summarizes it well when they say Xenos specializes in selling “mass produced exotic goods”.

Well, apparently they also had a leftover stock of chocolate letters (English Wikipedia) from the Sinterklaas holiday, celebrated on 5 December. I know the stores had to close in mid-December due to the lockdown, but still! Albert Heijn and Hema always clear out their stock even before 5 December.

Of course, at this point they only had the most common letters (M) or some rarer ones (O, P). They still had all of the usual flavors, though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut…

In other news, for the history buffs among us:

Digitalised Holland Amerika line passenger lists reveal famous names from dutchnews.nl. “The digital archive, which is kept at the Rotterdam city archive and accessible to the public, covers the period between 1900 and 1969 when millions of people made the journey [from Rotterdam to the United States] and took three years to complete.” Apparently Albert Einstein was also one of the regular passengers, as he frequently taught a course at nearby Leiden University. The direct link to the list is available here (stadsarchief.rotterdam.nl, in Dutch).

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New Years Eve guests (Or: Teddy bears)

For New Year’s Eve, Marco and I spent the night at Roger’s as we always like to do. This time we had some guests over at the dinner table:

That’s right – a stuffed teddy bear and reindeer decided to pay us a visit in their Christmas best.

And not to be forgotten, the oliebollen-themed napkins that they were sharing. New Year’s Eve gourmetten (link to iamexpat.nl in English) does get a bit messy at times…

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Happy New Year! (Or: Another oliebollen photo)

I did forget to post a picture of the oliebollen Marco and I made yesterday. Opps!

In the foreground is krentebollen (oliebollen with raisins) and in the background, just barely visible, is oliebollen (no raisins). I am a fan of the no-raisins variant, partially because raisins make everything sweeter. And I want to save my extra sweetness levels for a bit of powdered sugar. Although in the last few years or so I have realized that cinnamon sugar – just barely pictured in the background – is even better than powdered sugar. Although perhaps that opinion makes me a bit of a heretic…

Outside it is fairly quiet although I do hear the occasional boom from fireworks off in the distance. That is slightly surprising, since fireworks have been banned for the last two years thanks to corona. Even these fireworks have been illegally stored in people’s basements or they made the trip to Germany or Belgium to purchase fireworks. Hmmm.

Although who am I kidding. It is not surprising at all to hear fireworks today: Belgian border towns busy with firework-mad Dutch, despite the ban, from dutchnews.nl.

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A batch of homemade oliebollen (Or: 2021 New Year’s edition)

Marco and I made oliebollen tonight (Wikipedia). Or, more accurately, Marco made oliebollen and I helped/looked cute/cleaned things occasionally. Now that we have a bit of experience, we’re definitely getting better and faster at making them. The longest wait is letting the raisins soak for 15 minutes and then letting the oliebollen dough rise for 45 minutes. You then fry them at around 190C/375F for about 3-4 minutes each.

This batch of oliebollen is for tomorrow evening’s New Year’s Eve festivities. I will also stop by the Grote Markt oliebollen stand (official website) while I am in the city centre to pick up a few apple beignets.

Speaking of oliebollen… Koopmans (a major distributor of boxes of oliebollen mix) forgot to put yeast into a small percentage of their boxes. Opps?

It’s not harmful, but the mix won’t rise at all, meaning your oliebollen will be more like bricks then fluffy donuts. It’s a bit of bad timing on their part as everyone and their mother bakes oliebollen around New Year’s Eve.

The funniest part? The affected products have a production code of L212447 and a timestamp between 02:30 and 05:00. Yeah, I wouldn’t be awake at that time of the day either, so it makes sense that someone forgot to press the button to add the yeast in…

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Made of bread (Or: A Christmas tree for snacking)

Check out this Christmas tree made of bread rolls:

It is as tasty as it looks. It is actually bake-off bread – you buy it at Albert Heijn and finish baking it in the oven. Perfect toppings include butter, peanut butter, speculaas paste (Wikipedia), and/or hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). If you’re Dutch you would add a layer of butter and then the hagelslag sprinkles, but luckily I am not Dutch so I am exempt.

We also split a mini kerststol (Wikipedia) between us, a sort of sugary Christmas bread with almond paste inside. And it was one of those rare mornings where I went and made a second cup of coffee… Good times!

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Looking up (Or: Our new Christmas tree)

Our old Hema tree lasted for 9 years before we retired it last year. Actually, going to Hema to pick it up was our first stop after I moved to The Netherlands – I arrived on 18 December and on 19 December we picked up the tree at the local Hema store.

We have upgraded to a slightly taller tree (so we had to rearrange a few things and place it somewhere else). This tree comes in three parts and is pre-lit. Unfortunately we could only find a pre-lit tree with warm white lights, not the colored lights that most American trees have. But otherwise it was a nice purchase. A bit more annoying to set up then we expected, but we will be old pros by next year.

🎄 Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 🎄

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Mauritshuis museum (Or: Christmas trees)

Marco took a photo of the Christmas tree in front of the Mauritshuis museum here in The Hague (official website in English). Since we are in a lockdown again, the museum is promoting their virtual museum, aptly called the Gigapixel museum. The museum is most known for having Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring on display. Aka room 15, floor 2, in the lower right corner of the Gigapixel museum.

Here’s hoping for a quick reopening in 2022!

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