Wednesday, 1 January 2014

House of Oranje

2013_NLD_F4_1726-2When traveling in the Netherlands, it is hard to avoid seeing the colour orange. I do not recall ever seeing orange as a celebrated colour anywhere else in the world, but I can go to pictures that I took from any of my many trips to the Netherlands and I will be sure to find photos with something orange in them.

I had occasion to visit the Netherlands during the Queen's Day / Abdication Day / King's Crowning festivities, and I have to say, the Dutch really outdid themselves. Orange was in my face all day long!

When I booked my visit to the Netherlands last spring, I only wanted to see the splendor of Keukenhoff Gardens in bloom, and to visit old friends. I did not realize that my trip coincided with the Queen's Day holiday, nor did I realize that Queen Beatrix was abdicating in favour of her son, Willem-Alexander.

But when I stepped outside of Amsterdam Centraal on my way into the city, it was hard to miss the fact that something out of the ordinary was happening - there was orange everywhere!

To the casual tourist, this fixation with orange is odd. The Dutch national flag is red, white, and blue. There is not even a hint of orange in it. But Willem the Silent, founder of the House of Orange-Nassau, is also known as William of Orange*. He is viewed as a founding father of the Netherlands and a key player in the overthrow of the Spanish, so the Dutch come by their orangeness naturally.

Despite being the latest William to lead the House of Oranje, I thought that Willem-Alexander's banners were decidedly understated with respect to orange. As with all of my blog posts, you can click on any photo to see a better, higher resolution image.


Not strictly orange, but certainly in keeping with the royal theme of the week were these crowns atop De Bijenkorf.


The local stores of the chain H&M got in on both the crown and the orange themes.



Not to be outdone by H&M, C&A even reworked their logo to go with the theme. In this case, they played up Willem-Alexander's wife, Máxima, who is very popular with the Dutch. So C&A, with a little artistic license to drop Willem's first name, became M&A for the week.



I didn't quite follow the idea of the orange boxes in this store...


...but I did understand this, and thought it a great way for a store to use the Dutch fascination with Máxima.


Do bikes count as colourful street decorations?



Even plant pots were orange.


Besides colourful street decorations, the Dutch are resourceful at finding orange clothing and fashion accessories. Hats are usually the first things people "colourize" in any country. The Dutch are no exceptions to this rule of thumb.


In all my time shooting in Amsterdam, I have never met anyone unwilling to let me take their photograph. This guy is fairly typical of the co-operative Dutch.


Not strictly a hat, but certainly a head covering, was this orange turban.


For those who don't wear head coverings of any sort, there is always dye.


Orange jackets were a bit less common, but still could be seen sprinkled around the streets.


Sashes are not something I am used to seeing, but on this trip they seemed to be quite common, especially on officials such as these very enthusiastic ticket counter attendants.


Even Rembrandt sported one.


Stores were cashing in on the demand for anything orange. There were shirts, hats, and leis....




... innovative hoodies that doubled as beer can transporters....


... and for those with an aversion to hair dye, there was fake hair.


There were lots of fashion accessories, such as orange water bottle straps.


Leis were the most common fashion accessory I saw.


Of course it would not be Amsterdam if there were not some creative fashion accessories for the occasion!


For those not content to be orange just on the outside, some stores sold orange food so you could be orange on the inside. Like orange muffins.


Orange drinks.


And the most orange of all things orange: oranges.


Lest you think I am exaggerating the orangeness of the Netherlands, I concede that not everything is orange. Indeed, anything even remotely associated with Heineken is green.



Orange or green, you can see that when the Dutch do a colour, they go all the way!

All the posts from my trip to the Netherlands are here:

House of Oranje
Postcards from Kuekenhof
Train Stations
More Museums
Dutch (S)Treat
Up Close

* Willem the Silent is not to be confused with William III of England, who was also a "William of Orange" and a member of the same House of Orange.

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