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17th of May Norway’s Constitution Day in Oslo

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!):

17th of May Norway Constitution Day #1
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:
17th of May Norway Constitution Day #3
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 :lol: ) 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:
17th of May Norway Constitution Day #7

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 Norway Constitution Day #9 17th of May Norway Constitution Day #10
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:
17th of May Norway Constitution Day #14 17th of May Norway Constitution Day #19
Above: some of Oslo’s parks. Below: Some of the fountains.
17th of May Norway Constitution Day #15 17th of May Norway Constitution Day #21

Let me end with a couple of more pics to show how Norwegians are dress up for a party on our National Day:
17th of May Norway Constitution Day #6 17th of May Norway Constitution Day #18
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:

17th of May Parade in Norway
17th of May – Norway’s National Day in Oslo
17th of May – Norwegian Constitution Day

To enrich the subject, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinion in comments!

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  1. You really get around in that busy crowd and bring out the best in everything to share with me, and the rest of the world. Quite simply, a lovely post!

    Thanks my dear and thanks also for coming over and live with me so I could share moments like this with you in person!

  2. Oh you Norwegians really know how to capture the spirit ! That is a crowd I’d really enjoy to be in.

    Your welcome the 17th of May next year Jaffer!

  3. Happy National Day to all Norwegians!

    Love the Bundad traditional folk costume. They look pretty on the ladies.

    You are having lovely weather in Norway now.

  4. Great post! What a difference nice weather makes to the day. And isn’t the timing (most years) fabulous? Release from the grip of winter is cause for celebration in its own right, I think.

  5. what a wonderful coverage Renny!!
    I love the photo of the family in national costume :)
    looks like you are having some glorious weather over there too :)
    Happy belated May 17 to you and your family xx

  6. Its so nice to see so many people out in the sunshine enjoying themselves, and so happy looking. I’m loving the traditional outfits, so lovely to see pride in heritage. Happy May 17th! I’m thinking what a fabulous country you are living in – we’re hoping to visit one day in the future.

  7. It is wonderful to have a heritage and national pride. The culture of your country is really a spirit of union and fellowship. I wish America was more like that ;-)

    Great post Renny, you always have such interesting and unique material here !


  8. This years parade in Oslo was nothing less than fantastic.
    And one of the longest for many years: 108 schools did participate with more pupils than normal. And the weather, fantastic.
    Our Son in Law (from Germany) was in Norway for the first time, and he was very impressed. (You might see him on my blog)

  9. Many of us here just treat our independence day as another day to rest. Not much cheers and patriotism. You guys are such a jovial bunch! :D

  10. First time in here and I really enjoy looking at the pictures… :)

    The Norwegian traditional folk costume look beautiful.

  11. Sounds a lot of fun this day! I think you captured and telling very well the atmosphere of the parade and crowd.
    Bunads are very nice. Of course as you ask to speak about our feeling reading your post, I think things are very different in France since people are a sort of melting pot now with different cultures, social referent, and more than 72 millions of people on our space. It isn’t a paradize but finally year after year sounds we are more receptive each others. I understand Sarkosy has an impossible job! Making all these different people go all in the same direction! Impossible mission! You know it is so since Astérix, le Gaulois!

  12. It’s especially impressive that so many people take the trouble to wear traditional costumes. It looks so effective, so celebratory. There can’t be very many countries where people would turn out at an event wearing national dress, I don’t think. I’m wondering if people own these, or are they hired? It’s particularly great to have had such a beautiful day.

    1. @All: Thanks for your comments and reflection – it means a lot to me and enriches the subject!

      @A.: The Bunads is privately owned, often sewed by relatives (from their original aria or home province) and given as a confirmation gift.

  13. Hey Renny,

    I love it when you post about the History of Norway! I always knew that Norway (along with other Scandinavian countries) were very democratic since the 19th century (we learn this in our History classes) and that it was a model to follow (although Portugal has failed to do so in so many aspects).

    Oh my God, what a gorgeous family! Their outfits (Bunad) are so beautiful! I simply loved them.

    I like this kind of patriotism, for one should be proud of its country, its history and culture – after all it is all part of whom people are (their identity) – so, I congratulate Norway for its amazing and positive love for the nation.


  14. huh, how nice. Sort of like Japan’s children’s day and a Heritage week and national celebration like Canada’s all rolled together.

  15. That is social engineering. I do not like social engineering. There are better ways for women to rise, ways that may take longer, but ways that more honorably apply the principles of equality and fairness. Whatever ways that remain unjust which are preventing women from rising fairly in male-dominated environments are also wrong and must change, as they will in time. There are important lessons for individuals and for society to learn and work through during that more natural social adjustment.

  16. Very interesting! I will be taking my first trip to Norway in May and cannot wait to experience this special day in Oslo!

    Thank you for sharing all of the info and photos!

  17. Renny, what a wonderful post and great pics! I hope someday to be in Norway on the 17th of May to celebrate with my cousins. In the meantime, I wish you the best from Arizona…keep up the great blogging!

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