Vappu in the Netherlands Today Finns are celebrating Vappu. Not only in Finland. For Finns abroad it is also a special day. The Finnish Association in the Netherlands always celebrates Vappu with great enthusiasm. Just like Juhannus and independence day. For the Dutch people the first of may was always less important I am sorry to say. The reason was that between 1948 and 2013, the 30th of April was Queen's day in the Netherlands. The 30th of April was Queen Juliana's birthday and when she stepped down (in 1980) her daughter Beatrix continued the tradition. A smart move because she was born on the 31st of January. A cold day, even in the Netherlands.

bitterballenFor the Dutch in Finland celebrating Queen's day was not easy. After all the 30th is Vappuaatto. No services available after 18:00, so our embassy usually threw a party a couple of days before hand. No problem for many local Dutchies. Free drink, cheese, bitterballen and herring. A good preparation for Vappu!

In 2013 Queen Beatrix stepped down on her last Queen's day. It was then decided that King's day would be on King Willem-Alexander's birthday (27th of April). In Finland this is veteran's day. So both countries had a reason to put the flag in top this week. I suppose that will continue for some time to come although you never when a King kicks the bucket. Veteran's day is important day. Veteran's day is in the Netherlands on last Saturday of June (It used to be on the birthday of Prince Bernard – 29th of June).

The Netherlands remembers the dead of the second world war (and other conflicts we were engaged in) on the 4th of may. The flag goes half down and at 20:00 we observe two minutes silence. Radio and TV stop broadcasting. Trains stop wherever they are. Traffic stops wherever it is. It is a kind of holy moment in the Netherlands. It's like the world stops turning.

After such a serious moment there can only be a party. The 5th of may is party time. This is day that the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation. This is day when came an end to a terrible hunger winter. Flags out!! Rock concerts in every major town! Dance parties everywhere! On the 5th of may the Netherlands celebrates it's freedom much like the Finns celebrate Vappu. We both have our special days this week. Cherish them!!!