Monday, April 30, 2007

Today is "Queen's Day" ~ Vandaag is het "Koninginnedag"

Finn & Sacha ready to celebrate!

Koninginnedag!April 30th is the day all of the Netherlands celebrates the Queen's birthday. (If the 30th falls on a Sunday, then the celebration is on the 29th.)

Although the current Queen, Beatrix of the Netherlands, was really born on the 31st of January, she decided (because she's Queen and she can) to continue holding the "official national celebration" of Koninginnedag on April 30th out of respect & tribute to her mother, the former (and much beloved) Queen Juliana. (Hmm, we also think it's held in April because January 31st can be cold and gloomy here in the Netherlands.)

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Koninginnedag is a BIG party nationwide. :-) It's a day free from work, with street parties, music festivities, organized games, flea markets (mostly for children), held throughout the land. As is the custom, Queen Beatrix & the Royal Family also pay a visit to one or two cities in the Netherlands. In 1999 she visited Utrecht, but this year she will visit Woudrichem and s' Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) - both in the province of North Brabant.

Just about as much orange color as you can imagine will be found everywhere on Koninginnedag - from sweet treats & drinks, to colored hair & faces, to funny crowns & orange pennants. Why orange? Because the Dutch Royal family is the House of Oranje-Nassau and the royal wimpel (pennant) is orange! The orange pennant, signifying the Dutch Royal House, flies over the Dutch national tri-color flag on this day.

Dutch National flag with wimpel.

The Queen's personal standard.

The forerunner of today's celebration was held on August 31st 1885, the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina (Queen Juliana's mother). It was an innitiative of the Liberal Party of the Netherlands, which wanted to emphasize national unity. The first "official" Koninginnedag was held on August 31, 1891. Because this date was the end of school summer holidays, Koninginnedag soon became a popular childrens' celebration and remains so today.

As curious cats will do, we've been wondering on what day it will be held when De Prins van Oranje, Willem-Alexander (heir to the throne), becomes King of the Netherlands? We suspect it will still be on April 30th since Prince Willem-Alexander was born on April 27th, 1967. However, it will be the first Koningsdag (King's Day) the Netherlands has ever had ... that's cool! - (note the spelling difference between Koningin (queen) & Koning (king).

On this day, we also sing the "Wilhelmus", the Dutch national anthem, because we are good Dutch kitties. :o) We really are! (we also like typing the word "koninginnedag" over & over, because it's impossible to get right on the first go ... if you're a cat...heh heh). You can hear the Dutch national anthem here: The Wilhelmus click on "Muziek aan" to hear it sung in dutch (webpage is also in dutch (sorry non-dutch speakers), but has a full history of the anthem) .

The Dutch Royal Family's family tree (stamboom) can be found here: Grrr! they took our original link down, so here's another one ... this is a full Oranjestamboom

You can have a little fun too! Here is a link to an online spelletje (game) for Koninginnedag (in dutch only!) : Koninginnen Race (Queens' Race)

Or, if your really up to it, you could try a tradtional game of "sprietlopen".

This is a modern version of the traditional game -
" Dad" took this photo at the 2000 festivities in our neighbourhood.

Also, if you're so inclined, you can make these lekkere dingetjes (tasty things) ... the recipes are in dutch, but maybe you can figure them out! Oranjekoek (orange cake) , or try a Koninginnen Cocktail (non-alcoholic, but it could be "kicked up a notch" as someone in the US

OK!, we're off to go have some fun today and maybe snatch a few orange pennants.

Oranje boven!
Finn & Sacha

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Back from Berlin, the sketches ..... Terug uit Berlijn, de schetsen

Our humans have returned from Berlin ( hoera!)

Here are the sketches our "mom" did while there. All sketches were done on site in her Moleskine sketchbook, using Derwent Graphitints, Derwent InkTense and van Gogh watercolor pencils with Sakura Micron ink pens. Because you can't take pictures of the interior of the Schloss Charlottenburg (summer palace originally built by Friedrich III Elector of Prussia and his wife Sophie-Charlotte), "mom" figured the best way around that restriction was to simply just draw it! ;-)

In order as they are in the Moleskine. First page with collaged ticket stubbs from the Berliner Dom Cathedral and the Mauermuseum (Berlin Wall Museum) and sketch of the "White Room" at the Schloss Charlottenburg (where they couldn't take pics inside).
©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong

Schloss Charlottenburg- Green & Gold Ballroom in the new wing later added on to the original palace by Frederick the Great (Friedrich the III of Prussia). Green & gold were Frederick the Great's favorite colors. Lots of gold guilding everywhere. Supposed to make visitors feel as though they were dancing in a garden.
©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong

Schloss Charlottenburg back garden and winged sculpture. Mom told us that the garden was so huge it was more like a private park and that we could have lots of flower beds to play in... hmm, when are we moving in? ;-)
©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong

German History Museum window and Street lamp on the famous "Unter den Linden".
©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong

Various patterns around Berlin. The bottom right square is from the Ishtar Gate (ca. 650B.C., Babylon) in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong

Stone head sculpture (Greek or possibly Etruscan, "mom" forgot to write it down) in the Pergamon Museum.
©2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong

While they had a wonderful time in Berlin (really wonderful by all accounts), we're glad to have them back home. Some photos of Berlin to follow in another post, on another day. Life is sort of "busy" around our house these days.

Tot de volgende keer!
(Until next time)
Finn & Sacha
Links: Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tulips and "The Wall" - Tulpen en De Muur

First: The "precious" tulips (tulpen).

copyright 2007 J. Nijholt-Strong

From our garden, the tulips pictured are: "Duc van Tol" orange - c. 1700 , "Gele Prins" ( yellow prince) - c. 1780, "Duc van Tol" violet - c. 1700
We wrote about planting them last December, in this post: "Garden Work - Tuinwerk"
After having some fear that they might get snowed on last month, we brought them inside for a few days (uhmm, actually we didn't bring them inside, "our humans" did ... we just supervised).

This is a picture of Finn surveying "his"tulips.

copyright 2007, J. Nijholt-Strong

We are pleased to report that, after moving them back outside, they are all doing beautifully in our back garden! So here are some pictures for you.

copyright 2007, J. Nijholt-Strong
These are the oldest tulips in our garden, "Duc van Tol" red-yellow, from the year 1595. The purple flowers are giant Grape Hyacinths/ Muscari (not heirlooms).

In this photo, you can see how the"Duc van Tol" from the late 16th century have that familiar "tulip shape" that appears so often on Delft tiles, or in a child's drawing. They are also very short tulips, as was the fashion in gardens of the late 1500's.

copyright 2007, J. Nijholt-Strong

Here is a photo of all 3 pots containing the different heirloom tulip bulbs from the 16th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. These bulbs are either no longer in commercial production throughout the world, or they are in very, very rare supply. We feel lucky to have them and we think they are really pretty! (erg mooi) .

copyright 2007, J. Nijholt-Strong

We'll post some more photos when the next layer of bulbs pops up in a couple of weeks, which should be the bulbs from the early 20th century (more showy and some are supposed to be ruffled). Although, all of the bulbs seem to be coming up very fast now!

Next: "The Wall" (De Muur) ... as in, The Berlin Wall.

© 2007, J. Nijholt-Strong
How did their names get on that wall? The things they do!*shaking our heads*
(Yes we know, this is a pic of the old wall, it isn't like this anymore...)

What does "The Wall" have to do with tulips? Nothing, except that our humans are off to Berlin for a week and a half. So we won't be blogging until they come back.

We hope they remember to bring back some sausages for us! *grin*

Tot gauw! (see you later)
Finn & Sacha


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