May 17 in Norway celebrating National and Constitutional Day

17th of May in Oslo - The Parade at the Castle #117th of May, Norway’s National and Constitution Day (signed in 1814), is celebrated as the most Norwegian there is. Nationalism, patriotism and childlike enthusiasm are shown, as we celebrate our freedom (after the occupation during World War 2 and 100 years of union with Sweden) and of course the signing of our Constitution. Adding to that, for a nation located at The Arctic Circle – after a long, dark and cold winter – we are celebrating spring! Special also, and we are damn proud of it: The children are in the center of the activities and the parades are free of military presence of any sort.

The Parades:
There are local parades and activities at every school, in every little town and village all across the land. We all are dressed in our best outfit – many in the national costume (Bunad) and all waiving a Norwegian flag:
17 May celebration in Norway #1 17 May celebration in Norway #3

The largest parade of course is the school children’s parade marching down Karl Johan’s Street passing the Palace where the Royal Family will stand for many hours waving at the excited crowd. This is known as a day for the children, and on this day the King, Queen, Crown Prince and Crown Princeess are available to greet the children the entire length of the parade:
17th of May Norway Constitution Day #4

Russ – The reveling Norwegian high school graduates:
This year is the last year we will have school children in the house as Diane’s son is a Russ this year. As you can read in my earlier posts, a Russ is a member of the graduating class. The Russ celebrates finishing their education from around the 21 of April until the 17th of May. In this period they wear the Russ uniform – normally red or blue overalls:
17 May celebration in Norway #5
– and there are many parties, concerts, busses if one is involved in a bus project, and of course the endless list of pranks which Russ perform. As a reward for completing a prank you get a knot in the golden tassel on the Russ hat.

Some examples of the Russ pranks or dares are: going 24 hours without sleeping, sitting under your desk an entire class, walk with loaves of bread for shoes an entire school day, do a 5 minute poledance on the underground train, kissing a policeman or -woman, standing up every five minutes in a class and call out “cheers” (skål) or running through the teacher’s lounge in your underwear. You get the idea – most are fun and harmless and the teachers get in their fair share of the fun too!

I think what really makes our national day special is the way it involves the whole family, with the children in focus from one to hundred years. Sharing this with you brings me down the memory lane and I feel the anticipation of a child before the 17th of May celebration begins: pocket money for ice cream, soda and hotdogs, the children parade and the fun at school in my best costume without wool tights and boots – finally in our summer shoes. Please join me in wishing everyone a happy 17th of May.

If you like to read more about the most Norwegian day there is, here are my privies posts:

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