Celebrating our nation with drums, trumpets and flags

Trondheim Travel Blog

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Early morning 06.30. Greta and I

 

Celebrating the Norwegian Constitution Day is for me a very nice tradition. Although I have to go out of bed at 0545 am I`m looking forward to the day.  I`ll be dressed in my uniform, marching and playing my saxophone most of the day. 

 

 

In the evening I`ll change to my bunad and celebrate with my friends.  We usually meet over a good dinner, starting with Champagne following up with beer or wine.

 

Hopefully the sun will bee shining from a blue sky, the temperature  nice, and lots of people in the streets, the bands are playing.

My band
  

 

Oh yes this will bee a perfect day for celebrating.

 

The Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway and is an official national holiday each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth), Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day), although the latter is less frequent.

The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814.

The constitution declared Norway to be an independent nation.

 

The celebration of this day began spontaneously among students and others from early on, and for some years the king was reluctant to allow the celebrations.

Resting our instruments
For a couple of years in the 1820s, King Carl Johan actually forbade it, as he thought the celebrations a kind of protest and disregard - even revolt.

 

The king's attitude changed slightly after the Battle of the Square in 1829, an incident which resulted in such a commotion that the King had to allow it. It was, however, not until 1833, that anyone ventured to hold a public address on behalf of the day.

That year, official celebration was initiated by the monument of the late politician Christian Krogh, known to have stopped the King from gaining too much personal power. The address was held by Henrik Wergeland, thoroughly witnessed and accounted for by a Swedish spy, sent by the King himself.

 

After 1864, the day became more established, and the first children's promenade was launched in Christiania, in a parade consisting only of boys.

 

The girls had their own promenade by a different route.

Guys from my band
This initiative was taken by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, although Wergeland made the first known children's promenade at Eidsvoll around 1820.

 

By historical coincidence, the Second World War ended in Norway just nine days before that year's Constitution Day, on May 8, 1945, when the occupying German forces surrendered. Even if The Liberation Day is an official flag day in Norway, the day is not an official holiday and is not broadly celebrated. Instead a new and broader meaning has been added to the celebration of Norwegian independence on May 17.

 

The day focused originally on the Norwegian constitution, but after 1905, the focus has been directed also towards the royal family.

 

A noteworthy aspect of the Norwegian Constitution Day is its very non-military nature.

 

All over Norway, children's parades with an abundance of flags form the central elements of the celebration.

Children dressed in Bunad
Each elementary school district arranges its own parade with marching bands between schools.

 

The parade takes the children through the community, often making stops at homes of senior citizens, war memorials, etc. The longest parade is in Oslo, where some 100,000 people travel to the city centre to participate in the main festivities.

 

 

This is broadcast on TV every year, with comments on costumes, banners etc, together with local reports from celebrations around the country.

 

The massive Oslo parade includes some 100 schools, marching bands, and passes the royal palace where the royal family greets the people from the main balcony.

Norwegian is borne with ski on

 

Typically a school’s children parade will consist of some senior school children carrying the schools official banner, followed by a handful of other older children carrying full size Norwegian flags, and the school’s marching band. After the band the rest of the school children follow with hand sized flags, often with the junior forms first, and often behind self made banners for each form or even individual class. Nearby kindergartens may also have been invited to join in. As the parade passes, bystanders often join in behind the official parade, and follow the parade back to the school.

 

During the parade a marching band will play and the children will sing lyrics about the celebration of the National Day. The parade concludes with the stationary singing of the national anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet”, and the royal anthem "Kongesangen".

 

In addition to flags, people typically wear red, white and blue ribbons. Although a long-standing tradition, it has lately become more popular for men, women, and children to wear traditional outfits; called bunad the children also make a lot of noise shouting "Hurra!” singing, blowing whistles and shaking rattles.

 

In addition to children's parades, there are parades for the public, where every citizen is welcome to join in. These are led by marching bands and often local boy scouts and girl guides, local choirs, etc. This takes place in the early morning or in the afternoon, before or after the school's parade.

All parades begin or end with speeches. Both grown-ups and older children are invited to speak. After the parades, there are games for the children, and often a lot of ice-cream, pop, sweets and pølse (hotdogs) are consumed.

 

A bunad

A bunad is a traditional Norwegian costume, typically of rural origin. Bunads are local to Norway's traditional districts, and the result both of traditional evolution and organized efforts to discover and modernize traditional designs. The designs are typically elaborate, with embroidery, scarves, and shawls and hand-made silver or gold jewelry.

I`m very proud wearing my Bunad

There are bunads both for men and women, although women's bunads are more diverse and popular.

 

In Norway, it is common to wear bunad as a costume at various celebrations, especially the May 17 National Day celebrations. In recent years, its use has reached far outside folk dancing, folk music, and particular holidays.

 

Accepted as proper gala attire, it is increasingly common to see people, and especially women, dressed in bunad.

 

The various bunads have been designed through different means. Some of them are based on old local customs; other models are reconstructions made in the 20th century, relying on local and historical material. The interest for bunads dates back to Norwegian romantic nationalism and gained increasing interest with the folk-dance movement at the beginning of the 20th century.

His looking good isn`t he?

 

Russ

The graduating class from the Norwegian equivalent of high school - known as Russ - has its own celebration on May 17, staying up all night and making the rounds through the community.

The russ also has their own parades, in which they parody various local and political aspects, although recently this has become less frequent.

 

In Trondheim, children from all the city's schools parade the streets of Trondheim in the morning. Later in the afternoon, "borgertoget" starts. This is a parade where firefighters, sports teams, students associations and other associations are represented.

Russ

 

In addition to the children's parades the streets are filled with young and old, turning out in festive attire, and vendors selling ice cream, hot dogs, and lately, kebabs.

Norwegian community all over the world celebrate the day.  In Stockholm, Brisbane, Beograd, Santa Barbara California, Pasadena, Tallin, Riga, Vilnius, Newcastle, Sydney and in all embassies the embassador invite Norwegian to participate in their celebration.

My sister has been celebrating the Constitution Day in the embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Now I`m sitting in my livingroom with my feets up, drinking a glas of wine and feeling content with the day. 

I have been playing my saxophone, marching, met lots of  in the streets.  I have had dinner with some friends, and looking back on this day I know it has been perfect.

And to all of you living in Norway;  Trondheim had the best 17.

Ingvild and I
mai weather in the hole country this year.  Ok Stavanger had nice weather to, but in Oslo it was raining and cold.  I feel so sorry for you..........

 

 

 

 

siriaama says:
Hi Marit!
Here in K.L. it was very hot....... and I was not wearing my bunad:o)someone did and had a very warm day..... almost 180 Norwegian celebrated the day like we do in Norway. A band played, we had a parade and lot of good norwegian food!! Hurra!!
Siri
Posted on: May 26, 2008
postaltiburon says:
Very nice blog and nice weather! Thanks for sharing a part of your life with us!
Posted on: May 21, 2008
TYoungTX says:
Congrats on being a featured blog today. I really enjoyed reading about the history of this holiday and the traditions associated with it. Great job Marit.
Posted on: May 19, 2008
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Early morning 06.30. Greta and I
Early morning 06.30. Greta and I
My band
My band
Resting our instruments
Resting our instruments
Guys from my band
Guys from my band
Children dressed in Bunad
Children dressed in Bunad
Norwegian is borne with ski on
Norwegian is borne with ski on
I`m very proud wearing my Bunad
I`m very proud wearing my Bunad
His looking good isn`t he?
His looking good isn`t he?
Russ
Russ
Ingvild and I
Ingvild and I
I`m very proud of my Bunad
I`m very proud of my Bunad
My Bunad from behind
My Bunad from behind
Mathea 4 years
Mathea 4 years
The fire brigade defilating
The fire brigade defilating
Even dogs dresses in Bunad
Even dogs dresses in Bunad
Old friends playing in another band
Old friends playing in another band
Ingvild in front of my band
Ingvild in front of my band
Knut and me
Knut and me
Ingvild again
Ingvild again
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photo by: cvanzoen