The Norwegian Constitution Day is celebrated every 17th of May each year. It is an official holiday in the country and is Norway’s national day. Norwegians call this day as “Syttende Mai” which means “May seventeenth” in English. Other terms for this celebration are “Nasjonaldagen (National Day)” and “Grunnlovsdagen (Constitution Day)”.
Norwegians celebrate their constitution day with parties and other happy events. Before they take their celebration to the streets, families gather together for breakfast. Relatives and neighbors join together in a potluck composed of scrambled eggs, freshly baked bread, smoked salmon, and champagne for the grownups.
Children parades are also stapled activities in the celebration. These parades are led by marching bands as they all walk through the communities. People shout “hurrah”. In the capital city of Oslo, the royal family greets the crowd of people from the balcony of the Royal Palace.
The day also becomes an opportunity for the people to show off their “bunad” which is a Norwegian traditional costume. It varies in style and color and commemorates Norwegian ancestry.
After the Napoleonic wars, the constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814. This officially made Norway independent from Sweden. The constitution was also based on the American and French models. It elected Christian Frederick, crown prince of Denmark and Norway, as the King.
When did Norway achieve its independence?
The full independence of the country, however, was achieved on June 7, 1905. Nevertheless, the 17th of May is still celebrated as Norway’s National Day. There was a period, between 1820 and 1829 when the celebration of the day was banned by the order of King Karl Johan of Sweden, while the two nations were being united.
How did the Norway Constitution Day Celebration Start?
In 1833, the celebration of the Norway Constitution Day gained popularity due to a public speech given by writer Henrik Wergeland. He honored Norwegian heritage at the memorial service of Christian Krohg. In 1836, the Norwegian parliament held the first-ever celebration of the day. Since then, the tradition of celebrating this day continued.
Why is the Norway Constitution Day associated with Children?
The Norwegian Constitution Day’s association with children began in 1864 when Bjornstjerne Bjornson, who wrote the country’s national anthem, suggested staging a parade just for primary school pupils, representing Norway’s bright future.
In 1870, the first procession of children was arranged. And since 1906, the Royal Family gather each year on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Oslo to wave to the children marching by.
As mentioned earlier, the Norwegian Constitution Day is celebrated every May 17 each year. This means that the dates of celebration for this event are as follows:
- Sunday, May 17, 2015
- Tuesday, May 17, 2016
- Wednesday, May 17, 2017
- Thursday, May 17, 2018
- Friday, May 17, 2019
- Sunday, May 17, 2020
- Monday, May 17, 2021
- Tuesday, May 17, 2022
- Wednesday, May 17, 2023
- Friday, May 17, 2024
- Saturday, May 17, 2025
Why Do We Celebrate the Norwegian Constitution Day?
If you are Norwegian, you definitely should not miss the celebration of this day that commemorates freedom. You must take this day as your opportunity to celebrate freedom with your friends, family, and fellow countrymen. Freedom is one of the most fundamental rights for us humans. Fortunately for most of us, we are enjoying our own freedom.
Celebration Ideas and Activities
The following are the best things to do to make your celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day as best as it can be:
Exchange Russ Cards
Russ cards are mock business cards that graduating students hand out to people that request for them. It contains contact details, a picture, and a slogan. Usually, the picture is a funny picture. The name and contact details are often spoofs while the slogans are usually jokes. Students exchange russ cards foor fun.
Listen to Traditional Music
Various traditional songs are sung and played by Norwegian orchestras. Songs like “Yes, We Love this Country”, “Norway in Red, White and Blue”, “The Song of the King” and “Seventeenth of May I’m so Glad” are the most commonly played ones.
Feast on Food
Of course, the celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day will not pass by without the feast on foods. There will be hotdogs, sodas, and ice cream. Family tables are filled with various foods. You should not miss the feasting on foods during this day.
Wear the Bunad
In Norway, it is common to wear a bunad at various celebrations such as folk dances, weddings, and the celebration of the Constitution Day. Hence, you should never forget your bunad if you will join the celebration of this day.
Spectate the Children’s Parades
You should also witness the parades of children during this day. They will be carrying the Norwegian flag and will sing to traditional songs while they are being led by a marching band.
If You are out of the Country
If you are a Norwegian who is out of the country, you are still free to celebrate this day. You can invite your Norwegian friends near you or go to Norwegian embassies, student organizations, churches, and other organizations so that you will be able to celebrate this day with your dear countrymen.
Celebrate on Social Media
You can also take your celebration of this day on social media. You can, for instance, use the hashtag #NorwegianConstitutionDay to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of this important day.