Trace your Dutch roots

Your quarterly Dutch genealogy guide

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Quarterly newsletter on Dutch genealogy. Issue #12. Publication date 30 April 2009.

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Welcome to the April issue of this newsletter, the second issue of 2009.

In this issue:

  • Koninginnedag, a Dutch tradition
  • Get help breaking down your brick wall
  • Born in 1809

The next issue is planned for July. As always, topic suggestions may be sent to

Koninginnedag, a Dutch tradition

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, 2009 is the Year of the Traditions here in The Netherlands. The organization of the Year of the Traditions compiled a top 100 of the most popular traditions.

Number five in this list is koninginnedag (queen's day) and the vrijmarkt (free market) on koninginnedag. Koninginnedag is celebrated annually on 30 April.

Koninginnedag exists since 1891. Originally it was the celebration of the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina (1980-1962), who became Queen of The Netherlands upon the death of her father in 1890. Since 1949, when Queen Juliana succeeded her mother, Koninginnedag is on 30 April, Queen Juliana's birthday.

Though there were many festivities on Koninginnedag, Queen Wilhelmina did not usually attend them. Queen Juliana celebrated her birthday with a large flower tribute outside her home, Soestdijk Palace. The Queen and the royal family stood on the dais while a long line of people would pass, offering gifts, flowers, and birthday wishes. Later on the day, members of the royal family would mingle with the visitors in the palace garden and participate in some of the activities.

In 1980, Queen Juliana was succeeded by Queen Beatrix, who decided to keep Queen's Day on 30 April, as a tribute to her mother (and probably also for practical reasons - her own birthday is mid-winter and therefore less suitable for large outdoor activities). Queen Beatrix and her family visit some of the outdoor activities in (usually) two towns that she chooses in advance.

Today, on the 100th birthday of Queen Juliana (1909-2004), the Queen will celebrate Koninginnedag in her mother's style, with a flower tribute on the dais of the royal palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn.

An important part of Koninginnedag is the Vrijmarkt (free market). On Koninginnedag, anyone is allowed to sell things on the street without permit and without paying taxes. Many town centres turn into giant flee markets. People, many of them children, just lay down a blanket on the sidewalk or on the street, and spread out their cast-offs. Usually there are also street performers, food stalls, and children's activities, which results in a carnavalesque atmosphere.

The largest and most popular vrijmarkt is in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. Downtown Amsterdam can get so crowded that sometimes the trains are unable to reach Central Station!

Get help breaking down your brick wall

From time to time, I answer questions about Dutch genealogy on my blog. If you have a question about Dutch genealogy, or you have problems finding your Dutch ancestors, ask me, and maybe your question will appear on Trace your Dutch roots.

A few rules:

  • There is no guarantee you will get an answer. I will pick questions that will be interesting to others too, and only question that I am able to answer.
  • Be specific in your questions. Tell me what you already know, and what information you are looking for.
  • I will not do your research for you! You do your own research, but if you get stuck I am willing to have a look and advise about your next step. At the very least, check if your ancestors are in Genlias before you contact me.

Born in 1809

Are your ancestors born in Tilburg in 1809? Then you should visit the website Geboren in 1809 (Born in 1809).

In 1809, the town Tilburg became a city, and to celebrate the 200th anniversary of this event, a group of sixty volunteers, inhabitants of Tilburg, researches the 338 people born in Tilburg in 1809. The project runs until June, and the final results will be presented on 11 October.

The main section of the website is the wiki, where participants tell the life story of each Tilburger born in 1809. Use the navigation menu on the left. The most interesting section of the wiki is 338 Tilburgers, where the volunteers post their results. Other sections include:

  • Project informatie (Project information)
  • Deelnemers (Participants), where the 60 volunteers introduce themselves
  • Verhalen over 1809 (Stories about 1809), with mostly historical context and background information

Unfortunately, the website is only available in Dutch. A large part of the information in the 338 Tilburgers section of the wiki can probably be understood with help of the Dutch genealogy dictionary.

©2009 Henk van Kampen. All rights reserved.