Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Royal Birthdays

Yesterday The Netherlands celebrated Queens Day, the official birthday of the Queen. Called Koninginnedag in Dutch, it is observed on April 30th, although this is not the birthday of the current Queen Beatrix (January 31st). This was originally the birthday of Queen Juliana and it has been continued to be celebrated on this date because the weather is better for the outdoor celebrations. Street parties and other events are held around the country and the Queen and members of the royal family visit one or two places each year.

The Sovereign's Official birthday is celebrated differently in various countries:

Demark: On April 16th, Danes celebrated the 67th birthday of Queen Margarethe. It is an annual event, beginning at 12.oo pm, after the changing of the guard. The doors of the Amalienborg, the royal palace is opened and the Queen and her family appear on the balcony to be greeted by loud cheers. After a while, they move back into the palace, but appear again after the traditional call from the crowd: Margrethe, Margrethe, kom nu frem, ellers går vi aldrig hjem" (Margrethe, Margrethe, come on out, or we will never go home). The Royal Guard wears celebratory attire, a red jacket and bright blue trousers, and the Royal Guard Music Corps plays birthday songs and other joyful music.

United Kingdom: Last year, the Queen turned 80, and this milestone was marked by several special events. The Queen has two birthdays - her real one on April 21st and her official birthday, which occurs on the first or second Saturday in June. Her official birthday is marked by the Trooping the Color ceremony and a balcony appearance by the royal family. Her birthday is celebrated in the various Commonwealth countries. Canada celebrates Her Majesty's birthday on Victoria Day - May 24th. While it is known as Queen Victoria's birthdate, this date is also intended to honor the present Queen's birthday as well.

Luxembourg: The national holiday celebrates the birthday of the sovereign. The date has changed with each monarch, but since 1961, by Grand Ducal decree, it has been celebrated on June 23rd. It is celebrated on this date regardless of the actual birthdate of the sovereign. Festivities begin the evening before, June 22, in one of the villages outside of the capital, attended by the Grand-Ducal couple. They arrive in the capital around 10.00 pm, to take part in the traditional torch-lit procession. A fireworks display is held at 11:30 pm. On June 23rd a military parade is held in the Avenue de la Liberté, and the Te Deum is celebrated in Luxembourg Cathedral at 11 a.m. The Grand Duchess' birthday is marked on January 23rd with a parade and fireworks.

The Emperors Birthday in Japan: Celebrated on the current Emperors birthday - December 23rd. In 1948 it was made a public holiday. A public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace, when it opens its gates to the public. The royal family appear on the balcony to acknowledge the crowds.

Sweden: Birthday of the royal family are observed by flag days. Name Days are also celebrated, but only for the King (January 28th), the Queen (August 8th) and Crown Princess Victoria (March 12th). This year, King Carl-Gustav's 61st birthday was celebrated at the Royal Palace, where the king inspected the outgoing guard and received flowers from children. Every year on July 14, the future Queen of Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria's birthday is celebrated on Victoria Day in Borgholm on Öland. The Royal Family attend and Victoria presents the Victoria scholarship to a outstanding Swedish athlete. Singers and artists perform throughout the day and evening and a mini-marathon race is run.

Norway: On February 21, 2007, King Harald of Norway celebrated his 70th birthday, with a church service and a gala concert at Oslo City Hall. The public was invited to attend a variety of events. A dinner was held, attended by a large number of royal guests and European heads of state.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

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