Celebrating our nation with drums, trumpets and flags
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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
Hopefully the sun will bee shining from a blue sky, the temperature nice, and lots of people in the streets, the bands are playing.
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
The constitution declared
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.
The king's attitude changed slightly after the
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
The girls had their own promenade by a different route.
By historical coincidence, the Second World War ended in
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.
The parade takes the children through the community, often making stops at homes of senior citizens, war memorials, etc. The longest parade is in
This is broadcast on TV every year, with comments on costumes, banners etc, together with local reports from celebrations around the country.
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 is a traditional Norwegian costume, typically of rural origin. Bunads are local to
There are bunads both for men and women, although women's bunads are more diverse and popular.
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.
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 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.