April 30 - Queen's Day in the Netherlands - Now a Defunct Holiday!

 Posted on April 30, 2021

This is an update of my post published on April 30, 2010:

For two generations, Queen's Day was celebrated on the birthday of the queen of the Netherlands. However, with the crowning of Queen Beatrix, in 1980, that tradition came to a temporary halt. Queen Beatrix decided that her birthday, at the end of January, would be too cold for a nationwide celebration. So she kept the celebration on her mother's birthday—April 30—which also happens to be the date on which Queen Beatrix was crowned. 

However, in 2013 Queen Beatrix abdicated her throne (which means that she chose to step down). Her son Willem-Alexander became the first King of the Netherlands in 123 years. He was crowned on April 30, 2013, and the whole nation celebrated Koninginnedag one last time (for now, at least) even as they celebrated his coronation.

Now the annual celebration is held on Willem-Alexander's birthday, April 27, and of course the name of the holiday changed from Queen's Day to King's Day, or rather from Koninginnedag to Koningsdag.

Obviously, some of these photos are from non-
pandemic celebrations!!

Both Queen's and King's Days are known for the “freemarket”—everybody is allowed to sell stuff on the streets—and also for the “orange craze”—lots of people wear bright orange to honor the royal family, which is called the House of Orange-Nassau.

(Some people even paint their faces orange or wear orange wigs!)

Apparently, this is one of the largest holidays on the Dutch calendar.

Aside from the Netherlands, Queen's Day was and King's Day is celebrated on the Caribbean Islands associated with the Netherlands. These include 
Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius.  

Let's look at one of the Dutch Caribbean islands:


This island is located just off the coast of Venezuela. The first people to live on the island 
belonged to an Arawak Amerindian tribe, but in the 1500s it was colonized by Spain. Because the island is very dry, no plantations were created there, so the island was spared any association with slavery. In 1636, Aruba began to be ruled by the Dutch.

Starting in 1933, Aruba applied to the Dutch government to be given independence, but World War II interrupted the process, and the island became first a British and then a United States “protectorate.” Finally, in 1986, Aruba was granted independence from the Netherlands, although it remains a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

This complicated history made me ask, “What language is used in Aruba?” The answer is...umm...complicated!

The most spoken lan
guage on the island is Papiamento, a mixture language that has words from Dutch, English, French, many different African dialects, and (most importantly)  Portuguese and Spanish. The official language of the island nation is Dutch. Many of the people speak Spanish, and because of tourism many people also speak at least some English.

Aruba is dry and warm and sunny. There are apparently no rivers on the island! Tourism is one of the most important parts of the economy.

Look at the sightseeing attractions of Aruba. (Click each one to see a larger photo and other pictures of that attraction.)

Some of the biggest attractions are the beautiful beaches. See them here.

Learn about the Netherlands

Much of this country is very low
actually lower sea level!—and the Dutch rely on canals and a system of dikes to keep the land from flooding. 

The Netherlands is known for windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, and ice skating, including speed skating.

The Netherlands' national color is (can you remember? I already mentioned this!) orange. But its flag is red, white, and blue...so boring, right? But you should know that the Netherlands was either THE first, or at least one of the first, to adopt the red-white-and-blue flag, which grew out of an earlier orange-white-and-blue banner. (Some say that the change was made because orange dyes were too unstable.)

Here are some coloring pages that feature some of these "known for" things.

Check out an old Dutch game - Sjoelen - which is sometimes called Dutch shuffleboard.


Learn about Dutch Art

Some of the most famous artists in the world come from the Netherlands. Right off the bat, I thought of Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Vincent Van Gogh, and M.C. Escher.

There are a lot of famous Dutch artists,
but the two most famous just have to be
Van Gogh (self-portrait, above) and
Rembrandt (self-portrait, below).

Here are some coloring pages (online or print-and-color) from Dutch artists. Plus, don't miss the activity about Mondrian's art, found here.

Here is a website with pictures and info about the "Golden Age" of Dutch painting.

Portrait by Johannes Vermeer

Still life by Pieter Claesz

Landscape by Meindert Hobemma

Here is a lesson about Dutch painters - inspired by Carmen Sandiego.

Here is a kid-friendly bio of Vermeer. Here is one of his famous paintings in jigsaw puzzle form, and here are art lessons inspired by him.

M. C. Escher is famous for a lot of things - but one of them is his tessellations - repeated shapes that interlock. Here is a lesson, a how-to, about drawing tessellations.

Tessellations drawn by M. C. Escher (above) and kids (below).

Did you know...?

The language of the Netherlands is called Dutch in English, but it is called Nederlands in the language itself. “Neder” is like the English “nether,” which means “low” or “down” (and remember, the land of the Dutch is so low, it's mostly below sea level!). “Lands” means the same thing in both Dutch and English.

Neder = Nether... Lands = Lands...
What's going on? Why are Dutch and English so similar?

Actually, Dutch and English, along with German, are all part of one language family. (That doesn't mean that Dutch is super easy for English-speakers to learn, though.)

This diagram of the German family of languages doesn't
include all the various dialects; for example, American
English and British English differ in vocabulary and
pronunciation, and Flemish is the same as the Dutch
spoken in the Southern regions of the Netherlands.

Question words in English and Dutch

Also on this date:

Reunification Day in Vietnam

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:

April 29 - What's another word for...?

 Posted on April 29, 2021

This is an update of my post published on April 29, 2010:

On this date in 1852, the first edition of an English-language thesaurus created by Dr. Peter Mark Roget was published. It included 15,000 words. Since that year, Roget's Thesaurus has never been out of print, and the words inside have steadily grown—and it's very near half a million words by now!

Here's what it is: A thesaurus is a list of words organized by concept, with synonyms (words with the same or similar meanings) and sometimes antonyms (words with opposite meanings) listed together. 

Here's what it's NOT: It is not a list with which writers and students can simply swap words, because often the meanings of the words - aka their definitions - or the feeling-tones of the words - aka their connotations - are different. 

People using a thesaurus can browse a list looking for just the right word.

Here's an example
: in one section of Roget's Thesaurus we find market, mart, emporium, open air market, marketplace, flea market, auction room, street market, shop, store, depot, warehouse, bazaar, trading post, arcade, trading center, department store, chain store, trade fair, exchange, exhibition, boutique, supermarket, grocery store, superstore, cash and carry, convenience store, stall, booth, stand, corner shop, kiosk, newsstand, counter, vending machine, shopping center, mall, fete...

Each of these words has a particular meaning and tone. A J.C.Penny's isn't a boutique or kiosk, and the tiny floral shop on the corner isn't a grocery store or trading post.

Dr. Roget started his word list in 1805, two years before Daniel Webster started writing his dictionary. Dr. Roget used his list privately for almost 50 years before publishing it. He lived a long life (until age 90!) and was able to see his work through 28 printings (and, of course, there have been many, many more since then).

Rate the following words for their connotation.

Which of each word pair is more positive (or less negative) than the other?


My Answers: I think that these words are more positive (less negative): slim, sturdy, young, cautious, communicative, newsy, fanciful, precise, unrealistic, foolish, inquisitive. Do you agree?

Brain POP Jr has some activities about synonyms and antonyms

Scholastic has lessons on connotations!

One way to come up with the right word is to brainstorm and create a word cloud...Like, what does "comfort food" mean to you?