Q: Why do people sell their old junk in the street on 30 April?

A: If you live anywhere near a shopping street in the Netherlands, you may have been surprised by the sudden onslaught of video tapes (who knew they still existed?), Ikea lamps, children’s toys, clothes and books being sold on your doorstep last week.

There can be only one reason: Queen’s Day! Originally ‘Prinsessendag’, a festivity for children started in 1885, this now national holiday has grown into a not-to-be-missed street festival for all ages. Funnily enough Queen’s Day is not actually celebrated on the Queen’s birthday anymore. It is held on her mother’s (Juliana) birthday. Beatrix’s birthday is actually 31 January but that time of year is deemed too cold for a street party!

One day a year licensing laws for street vending are relaxed and people can sell all the old ‘junk’ that they don’t need anymore. The annual Vrijmarkt (free market) is held throughout the country and it is mainly the children who do the ‘vending’. It is fun and a great opportunity to get rid of everything that you might have marked ‘attic’ or ‘junk’ during your last spring clean. And if that wasn’t enough reason to join in … it is possibly the world’s biggest recycling project.

So start saving up your ‘junk’ and prepare your kids, Queen’s Day 2013 is just a year away!

Hedda Pier, 5 May 2012