May 17th is Norway’s National Day since our constitution was signed at Edsvoll Minor in 1814. It was inspired by the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the French revolution in 1789 and the subsequent U.S. and French constitutions, and is considered one of the most radically democratic constitutions in the world at that time. With the establishment of parliamentarism in the 1870s, the Council of State (Statsråd) was effectively chosen by general election, in the King appointed only members of the party or coalition having a majority in the Storting (parliament). I’ll give you links to my previous posts for more background and history, because today I want to explain what is so special about this day since there isn’t anything more typically Norwegian than the 17th of May:
If you take a bit of pride and happiness combined with a celebration of spring and freedom, and add a dash of positive nationalism plus a little childish patriotism; then you have the Norwegian Constitution Day in a nutshell. It’s spring time and the long winter is over, we are both celebrating the end of the 2nd world war (May 8, 1945) when our national day was forbidden, and the signing of our constitution in 1814. Another characteristic point you need to understand the tradition in our celebration though: The Day is by and for the children who are always in focus. The parades are the proof of the pudding. You see no sign of military power demonstration all. Since pictures says more than a thousand word, let me show some pics from today (click all to bigify and enjoy!):
Every grammar school arranges their own parades and the children parade, class by class. The parents are cheering from the sidewalk.
In Oslo, the capital, it’s a bit different as 100 of the community’s schools make the parade passing the Royal Castle:
The Royal Family greets the parade from the balcony. Dressed in their finest and waving to the crowd. This is their salute to the people.
Everyone use their best outfit or the Norwegian traditional folk costume Bunad and the children eats as much ice cream as they can (well, adults are very childish that day too 😆 ) I saw some people in Oslo today, which I thought was very typical 17th of may family and when I told them my blog mission for today, they where nice and willingly posing for me:
The parade goes down Karl Johan to the castle and back on a parallel gate and the city is full of happy and celebrating people, so its hard (in the pictures)to separate the parade from the crowd. Let me give it a try and hoping you get the spirit:
17th of May parade with flags and a cheering crowd. To the right: look at the little boy on his father’s shoulder!
There are people everywhere and some relaxing in parks enjoying the warm sunshine:
Above: some of Oslo’s parks. Below: Some of the fountains.
Let me end with a couple of more pics to show how Norwegians are dress up for a party on our National Day:
Left: A family not in Bunad. Right: Some teenagers.
One could write a book or more about this day, but I have only one post and tried my best to share some of the key points to understand our tradition. You might say it is patriotism or nationalism, but then I would say in a very harmless and positive way. We don’t think we are better than others, have won anything or have any opponents. We’re just happy to be one free nation in peace and that it’s okay to feel good and to show it.
There are plenty more pics at my Flicr account and for you who want more historical background and reports; here are some of my posts from earlier years:
To enrich the subject, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinion in comments!