“Come on mate, put on your orange hat and go and see the flea market.” The 27th of April is known to be THE day in the Netherlands when the Dutch celebrate the King’s birthday and is therefore known as King’s Day. Typically, streets are filled with market stalls used by the old and young alike for selling their goods. Like a garage sale where you can stroll through the streets and play typical Dutch games or listen to children playing their instruments with a small hat in front of them, hoping people will fill it with some money as they pass by.

It’s also the day the Royal Family spends in a particular city walking around, playing games and shaking hands with people. They are always dressed to the occasion. Before the pandemic, children and parents would mark places on the streets so people knew it was their spot to sell their used-products. Much of this changed due to Covid-19. Last year was the first instance that people celebrated this day at home instead of walking in the streets, events were held online or even cancelled. For someone living in the Netherlands it was strange seeing the streets empty and abandoned. To give to you an insight of what games you could have played, we go back in history and explain some traditional Dutch games: 

'Koekhappen'

One of the oldest and most symbolic games during King’s Day is ‘koekhappen.’ For this you need to buy ‘ontbijtkoeken’, which literally translates to: ‘breakfast cake.’ It is a little square slice, a sweetly-spiced, brown ginger cake; really an authentic Dutch delicacy. You can buy it in any grocery store. To start you need about six or eight ‘ontbijtkoeken’ hanging on a rope. Then you need to have two large horizon connection points, attached to something and connected on both sides with an elastic court. On that horizon elastic court you tie the ‘ontbijtkoeken.’

The most fun way of playing this game is with two players; your opponent starts by blindfolding you. After that they make sure you are in front of the ‘ontbijtkoeken’ and make you want to try and take a bite of any one of them. You can play with a timeslot or any rules you think of. The blindfolded person who wants to take a bite of the ‘ontbijtkoeken’ needs to have both their hands tied behind their back. 

‘Blikgooien’

This game can be played various ways and doesn’t have any strict rules or regulations. It is also the most simple game. The only things you need are a table, six cans and a ball. You stack the cans like a pyramid on the table and give someone the ball. They get three tries to knock down as many cans as possible. 

‘Sjoelen’ 

This game looks like the English version of shuffleboard. You can buy this game in stores, or you can make a version of your own. You take a long wooden rectangular tray. The bottom is flat and on the side you have shelves that are horizontally attached to the bottom.  At the bottom of these shelves you make six little rectangular openings through which you have to throw the wooden disks. There are six boxes and every box is linked to a number of points. You can score 1 to 6 points. And if one disk is jammed you can use another one to give it a little ‘kiss’. You can also use the side of the board to your advantage. In total you can throw 24 wooden disks. 

 ‘Ezeltje prikje’

This game is mostly played by children. You draw a donkey on a board but you don’t draw its tail. To start the game, you blindfold yourself and take the tail of the donkey in your hand. On the edge of the tail there is a tweezer; you need to aim to connect the tail on the donkey’s behind. If you want to do this the hard way, you spin around before attempting to pin the tail onto the donkey.

‘Spijkerpoepen’

Typically this game is meant for children, but adults can play it too. It’s very simple; you only need a couple of empty bottles, a rope and some nails. You tie a nail to the rope, you then tie the rope with the nail around your waist and you position yourself above an empty bottle. Every player has their own empty bottle. Make sure you keep the nail behind your back. The most fun way of playing this game is with a group, because you can see who gets the nail in the bottle the fastest. Often, hearing the name ‘spijkerpoepen’ can make a child laugh.

‘Ei op een lepel’ 

Two eggs and two spoons. That’s all you need for this game. You take two players, place a spoon in the mouth of each player and place an egg on top of the spoon. There are various ways you can play. The players can race each other in a straight line, do an obstacle run or even play blindfolded to make it more difficult. The person who drops their egg first loses. If you want to be a bit sneaky, you can use a raw egg for entertainment.  

‘Zaklopen’

The oldest game ever played during King’s Day is ‘zaklopen.’ The first game recorded was in 1904 and you can’t forget this game when you organise something on the 27th of April. You set out a race route with pylons or small bottles of water. If you have a large group of players, you divide them into groups. The players take a burlap bag, place their legs in it and start racing by hoping like a rabbit to go forward. Often, players end up falling to the ground. The first one to reach the finish line wins. 

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