Budget Day or Hat Day?
by Eduard Schaepman, on 19 Sep 2019
The royal procession (still with the glass car), the Kings’ Speech, the balcony scene, the suitcase and the hats of the ladies. Budget Day is a day of many traditions, which nowadays includes the leakage of the Annual Budget. One part was new: this year we had a real 'designated survivor'. A term that we all know thanks to the Netflix series of the same name, but Minister Blok's absence did not spoil the fun: it was one big party.
Of course, I was there (by now also a tradition), and while I had a cup of coffee at Tribes The Hague, the first ladies with their hats came along. It makes the day extra special, and I decided to join in this year. The origin of this tradition is simple, but oh so brilliant: in 1977 Erica Terpstra wore a hat and was quite noticeable (there were only 2 other ladies who wore a hat that day). Today, the hats have a function now and then because you can use them very well for political statements. This edition we even saw whole outfits passing by: Christian Union Member of Parliament Carla Dik-Faber was wearing a real seaweed suit (I hope it smelled different for her neighbors in the parliament buildings in The Hague), and Minister Bijleveld was also wearing a dress with a message: 75 years of freedom and 75 years of women in the armed forces.
It reminded me of a similar meeting on the other side of the world: the Sing-Sing of Papua New Guinea. For this festive day (the weekend closest to 16 September) more than 100 tribes travel to Goroka, where they present their culture to each other. They do this by dressing exuberantly according to their tradition, so you see a lot of yellow faces, wigs, feathery ewes, heavy masks and so on. The more you stand out, the better others can see you and the stronger they can present themselves. Reminds one of the purposes of the seaweed suit, the army dress, and the hats, doesn't it?
But of course, it's also just a way to make a day extra special, and to create a feeling of togetherness. Imagine if everyone would just come into their daily clutches; there would be no bells, whistles or horses. Then we could only listen to the King's Speech... Then there's nothing to it! Luckily, we always know the main lines of the Annual Budget a few days in advance, so we can concentrate on the parade of hats. Or give our opinion about the King's chin and the Queen's dress.
And I suggest that we start thinking about the name for the next edition. We don't know the reason why Budget Day (Prinsjesdag) is so-called anymore (they suspect it has something to do with an old custom and the birthday of Prince William V), and the day is all about those hats, so isn't it time to admit it? From 2020, the third Tuesday in September will be Hat Day and we gentlemen should participate in that!