May 16, 2011

May 17 - Norwegian National Day

Syttende mai (17th of May) is nearly upon us, in other words, Norwegian National Day!
This is probably one of (if not the) biggest days in Norway, filled with parades and alcohol, flags and food. It celebrates the signing of the Constitution of Norway on May 17, 1814. It is the second oldest single-document constitution in the world (and first in Europe). In Oslo, the parades go past the Royal Palace where Norwegians see the King (Harald V) and the Queen (Sonja) of Norway.
Children's parade in front of the Royal Palace in Oslo
The day is primarily focused by parades, though typically has no military marches, the parades are citizens, dressed in the national outfit (the bunad) and waving Norwegian flags. Marching bands play music and the National and Royal anthems (Ja, vi elsker dette landet and Kongesangen respectively) are usually sung, childrens marches tend to occur in the morning followed by speeches, and so on. There is even a march from the Royal Guard. The celebrations can go all day, with vendors selling food along the street for the hungry Norwegians running around waving flags all day.

The day is commonly ended with family celebrations, sometimes including the extended family, for large dinners and perhaps, drinking. It is a big celebration and some towns have their own changes to the celebrations, but one thing you can be sure of is that Norwegian flags will be present everywhere.
I told you it was a big day