Everywhere in town, Bergen, Norway
Constitution Day Bergen Reviews
Celebrating independence, Norwegian style Nov 28, 2010
If you have an image of Norwegians as slightly too patriotic and nationalistic, this view will probably be confirmed if you are anywhere in Norway on the 17th of May. On the 17th of May in 1814 the Norwegian constitution was signed, and Norway was declared independent from Denmark. This ended a 400 year union (of course we shortly thereafter entered a union with Sweden, but thats another story...).
The 17th of May is the national holiday of Norway and we celebrate the constitution. Unlike many other countries we do not have military parades (they would be rather short...), but have children's parades instead. Everybody dresses up in their finest, and many have their national costumes on (called bunad in Norwegian). These costumes are different depending on which part of country you are from, many little valleys and villages have their own bunad. If you haven't packed your bunad but want to look like native you can buy a ribbon. Just make sure to fasten it on your left side, over the heart!
Being a native Bergenser, I might be slightly biased, but Bergen is the best place to be on the 17th of May. We have not one, but three parades!(or processions as we call them in Bergen). One is 7 o'clock in the morning (never made it to that one), the two others begin at the more reasonable 10.30.
The main procession is made up by many different marching bands, organisations, the fotball team, sportsclubs, floats, veteran cars, dancers and our very own speciality the Buekorps. That will be the boys (and some girls) in uniform beating drums and carrying "spears" and "crossbows" (its a throwback to the old city guard). Only in Bergen people!!! Most Norwegians (especially students)hate them as the drums are load, and they practice in the exam period, but its not 17th of May without them :)
God forbid we just have a children's parade as the rest of the country does... In Bergen we have the Flagprocession. Children from all over the city march, wawing flags and singing.
The two parades go simultaneously next to eachother, so you won't miss out. They start on the main square (Torgallmenningen)and walk around town. The whole route is lined with fences (and people) so its not difficult to find. It pays to be early if you want a good view. The city is jam packed with people, and you may wonder where they all came from as they all seem to dissapear on the 18th.
In the afternoon, most people go home and have dinner with family and friends, and most primary schools have a small parade ending up at the school where there is a fair. In the city centre there is a tivoli (not very big oor exciting) and in the evening there is a firework display.
There are many stalls around the city centre selling hot dogs, flags, and gas balloons (a must have for me). i hope you like hot dog, because it may be difficult to find other food on this day. All the shops will be closed, and I think most resturants are fully booked, as the 17th of May breakfast or lunch is part of the tradition.
If you are in Norway in May, I recommend making sure you experience the 17th, to get a feel for some local culture :)If you are on a car holiday, DO NOT try to drive to town. The whole city centre is closed for cars. It's best to take public transport, the busses are allowed to enter the town.
Part of the list Great days to be in Bergen
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