CLMN | National Days

CLMN | National Days

26 april 2016

“We all need symbols in life. Whether animals we venerate, monuments we admire, or real or fictive characters we worship”, I wrote in a previous column when I was trying to identify the Dutch symbol par excellence: the fiets.

Other symbols we also need in life are those created around National Days. All around the world, a National Day is held on a designated date and various celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or of a non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming a republic, or a significant date for a patron saint (Ireland) or the birthday, accession to power or removal from it of a ruler.

As a result, most national days can be categorized in two large blocks: newer countries that commemorate their independence day (India, Indonesia, USA, Ukraine, etc. - and in general just about all former colonies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia). And older countries that celebrate events with a special significance: a revolution (France’s Bastille Day), a reunification (Germany), or a state foundation (China).

Finally, the particular cases, including kingdoms with a mobile date that is often the regent’s birthday or day of accession to the throne. Thailand, Monaco and Oman are example countries, but of course our own Netherlands is too, where Queen’s Day first on Augustus 31, then on April 30, recently turned into Koningsdag (King’s Day) on April 27 (provided it’s not a Sunday, otherwise celebrations take place on the 26th in order not to offend the Protestant minority).

Still following me? This is the day of the Orange madness with activities such as the Free Market (on that day only people are allowed to sell their junk on the street without a permit), the King’s Night the evening before, the King’s Games and the King’s Breakfast for school children which takes place days before.

Although this may all seem like medieval nostalgia, we’re talking modern times! But it’s all about creating a sense of belonging and community. For one day, everybody in Holland is the same: orange, equal and crazy. What about a day like this at the TU/e? Perhaps with just a few more colors - diversity oblige

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