Perhaps you’ve noticed that Dutch people
like love the colour orange. Yes, the love of orange is alive and kicking in the Netherlands. You can even eat orange sprinkles on your toast! But why orange, you ask? Isn’t the Dutch flag red, white and blue? Well, truth be told, the original colours of the Dutch flag were in fact, orange, white and blue. I’ll tell you why: Once upon a time there was a young boy called Willem van Oranje who was born into nobility in 1533. Willem became the Prince of Orange in 1544 and lead the Dutch revolt against the Spanish, resulting in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648.
Okay, okay, this is starting to feel like a history lesson… I’ll get to the good stuff . This Willem character was influential enough to be fondly referred to as the father of the fatherland, and went on to have the national flag represent him (and the House of Orange), and was forever idolized in the Dutch national anthem (translated for your reading pleasure below):
William of Nassau,
Am I, of German descent
Loyal to the fatherland
I will remain until I die
A Prince of Orange
Am I, free and fearless
The king of Spain
I have always honored
I think you get the point – the dude was fairly important in the lowlands.
The Orange bloodline thrived and grew throughout the ages and in 1815, after a long period as a republic, the Netherlands became a monarchy, as it remains so today, under the House of Orange-Nassau.
There are many hypothesis as to why the Orange in the Dutch flag turned red over time; some say there was a national shortage of orange dye, others say that sailors could not see the orange flag from a distance, others that the colour faded to yellow too often in the sun, or that the house of Orange simply lost its popularity. No theory has actually been proven but it is known that red replaced the orange at the end of the 80 years war in 1648.
You may have noticed that Dutch people get out their orange gear at least once a year to celebrate the Queen’s birthday (hmm…I wonder if the Queen has to bring her own cake to the party??). The orange garb also makes an appearance during sporting events. When Dutch people use the word Oranje it can mean many things: the royal house, the dutch national football team, or simply the colour. Confused? When in doubt, just wear orange!