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No Orange Clothes Day

No Orange Clothes Day commemorates the day in 1784 when the wearing of orange was banned in the Netherlands, a country often informally called Holland. Such a thing seems unconscionable today, as orange is now seen as the unofficial color of the Netherlands, and is worn and displayed everywhere. The color has a long and varied history in the country, dating back to the sixteenth century.

Why did orange become associated with the Netherlands? Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family, and its association with them goes back to William of Nassau, who is also known as William the Silent or William of Orange. William became the Prince of Orange in 1544, at the age of eleven, when the principality of Orange—which had previously been a French principality—came under his control.

In 1568, he became the leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish, which led to the creation of the Dutch Republic. The original flag was orange, blue, and white. Following William's death, it was hard for his successors to hold the Republic together, and most of the power was held in the provincial Estates instead. The orange stripe in the flag was replaced with red. Instead of being a color representing the whole country, orange came to represent the color of the Stadholder, a term for the magistrate. This became even more the case, as the magistrates began to act more like monarchs.

The magistrates began losing power, but some people began giving them support and started wearing orange bows and ribbons. It was because of this that the Estates of Holland banned the wearing of orange on June 15, 1784. But, the Orange ideology began growing internationally and was embraced by groups such as the Protestants in Ireland. In 1813, the Orange monarchy was established in the Netherlands. Its ideology was no longer such an integral part of it, making it more palatable to ordinary citizens. The color orange was no longer illegal and began to have a broader appeal, although it did not completely unify the nation.

Reforms in 1848 lessened the power of the Princes of Orange, but when Queen Wilhelmina came to power in 1890, a lasting bond between the monarchy of the House of Orange and the people was formed. The color orange became celebrated widely. Some wanted the color added back to the Dutch flag, but the flag was officially proclaimed to be red, white, and blue in 1937. Orange continued to gain popularity on its own, being used in flags and banners—even outnumbering the official flag at sporting events and other celebrations.

Today, orange is a symbol of the whole Dutch nation, not just of the monarchy. It is a symbol of pride in being Dutch, and still draws on its history, being a symbol of resistance and sovereignty, just as it was during the time of William and the formation of the Republic. The wearing of orange in mass is known as "Oranjegekte," meaning "Orange craze," or "Oranjekoorts," meaning "Orange fever." It has been worn by the Dutch to World Cup events since about 1934, and most sports teams in the Netherlands use the color. Not only do the Dutch commonly wear orange in all forms of clothing, the color also covers their houses and shops, and cars and streets. Even some airplanes are painted orange. Orange banners are attached to the Dutch flag on royal birthdays, and the national holiday of Koningsdag, or King's Day, is held each April and is one of the finest displays of Oranjegekte.

How to Observe No Orange Clothes Day

Although today is known as No Orange Clothes Day, it may actually be more fitting to wear orange clothes than to not wear them. You could wear orange to show your solidarity with the Dutch people, or your pride in the Netherlands if you are a citizen of—or have roots in—the country. But, if you would like to celebrate the day by not wearing orange, you could do that as well. It is really up to you. For those that really want to get into the celebration, a trip could be planned to the Netherlands, possibly to take place during Koningsdag.

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