The Netherlands has two national holidays: Liberation Day on May 5 and King’s Day (“Koningsdag”), which is celebrated April 27.King’s Day is actually the celebration of King William-Alexander’s birthday. On the holiday flags are flown throughout the country. Usually there are street parties, fairs, flea markets and other festivities, which include food, drinks, music and entertainment for the young and old.Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, however, these activities may not take place as they normally do.The King and his family before COVID-19 would visit the festivities each year in a different location. These visits would then be broadcasted live on television.The forerunner of this national holiday was celebrated the first time Aug. 31, 1889, which was King William-Alexander’s great grandmother Wilhelmina’s birthday. Named then Queen’s Day, it was actually an initiative of the Liberal Party in the hope that a symbol designed to foster national unity would promote unity within its own ranks. As the day marked the end of summer, it replaced the local harvest festivals held normally at that time of year.The first real Queen’s Day was held after the death of King Willem III and the succession of Queen Wilhelmina. As the day also fell at the end of the school holidays, Aug. 31 soon became a special day for all Dutch schoolchildren. It turned into a full-scale popular celebration in 1902 when Queen Wilhelmina suffered a serious illness. The news of her recovery delighted the nation and turned “Koninginnedag” (Queen’s Day) into a truly popular holiday.During the years that Queen Emma, Queen Wilhelmina’s mother, spent the summers at Soestdijk Palace, the local population would present her with a floral tribute Aug. 2, her birthday. Then when her granddaughter, Princess Juliana, took up residence at the palace in 1937 following her marriage, the tradition was continued on Juliana’s birthday, April 30.After Juliana’s accession to the throne in 1948, this was the date Koninginnedag was celebrated on, and the modest parade grew into a national event, shown on television from the 1950s onward. During Queen Juliana’s reign, it gradually became the custom for everyone to have a day off on April 30 and it ultimately became a national holiday.In 1980, as a mark of respect to her mother, Queen Beatrix announced that Koninginnedag would continue to be celebrated on April 30. She did, however, change how it was celebrated. There would be no more floral parades at Soestdijk Palace, but she and her family would visit two different cities every year and attend the festivities.King Willem-Alexander ascended the throne on April 30, 2013 and since his birthday is April 27, the national holiday is still celebrated in the month of April. He decided in his turn that only one city would be visited, that way he and his family can spend more time with the people.On April 27 the nation’s red-white-blue flag will be flown throughout the country as well as orange flags. Many people will dress in orange or wear orange hats. Some are even decked head to foot in orange. The prevalent color, symbolizing national and royal pride, stems from the royal family name: The Nassau Family, House of Orange.This inheritance dates back to the 16th century, and the first to have this title was William the Silent, also named the father of the Fatherland. As Prince of Orange he declared war on Spain, making the Dutch 80-year war of independence an official war instead of just a rebel uprising. During and after that war, William and his descendants led the Netherlands. At first not as kings but as Stadhouders (State Keepers) in the world’s first democracy.After a brief occupation by France with Napoleon’s brother Louis as the first King of the Netherlands, the Dutch decided that a monarchy was not such a bad idea at all. And serving more as a watch-dog over the Parliament than a divine sovereign, King William I became the Netherlands’ first King in 1815. The House of Orange has ruled ever since.This year Maastricht, capital of Limburg, was supposed to be the host for the Royal Family. Nevertheless, COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. All festivities are canceled, and although the country will still turn the color orange with flags and streamers and other decorations, the streets will remain empty and the Royal Family won’t come to Maastricht to join in the festivities.But there is always next year! Maybe they will decide to visit Maastricht then.