The 17thof May is the National day in Norway and it commemorates the day the Constitution was signed in 1814 at Eidsvoll.
Unlike many countries, Norway celebrates the Constitution Day and not the Independence Day, which took place on the 7th of June 1905 with the dissolution of the Union with Sweden.
Indeed, in 1814, Norway was ceded from Denmark to Sweden and a constitution was passed, which declared its independence. Even if the country was then occupied by Sweden, the Parliament was allowed to continue to exist. This is why Norway considers the 7th of June only like the date it regained its independence. This date is much less important that the 17th of May and isn’t even celebrated.
The Norwegian Parliament held the first May 17 celebrations in 1836. From that point onwards, it was regarded as the National day.
The first children’s parade, which is now the tradition, took place in 1870.
And since 1906, the Norwegian Royal family gathered on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Oslo. It couldn’t have been before, as the new King of Norway (Haakon VII) was sworn on the 27th of November 1905.
This is a special time to be in Norway as Norwegians celebrate their National Constitution Day with a lot of enthusiasm.
Wherever you are on this day, you’re sure to be able to enjoy a colourful and happy procession of children. Indeed, Norway stands out among many other countries by deciding that there wouldn’t be a military parade on that day.
Everybody is dressed up in honour of the day with his best suit or a national costume called a Bunad and carry a flag with the Norwegian colours. The beauty of this gathering is that Bunads are different in appearance (colours and shapes) from region to region.
|This is only to give you an idea, they aren´t all represented here
After the procession, the celebration continues and most people will join friends and/or family to enjoy a lunch with traditional dishes, or if the weather is nice, a picnic or barbecue. In any case, the dessert will be a large array of home-made cakes, as delicious as they look beautiful! Children are the hapiest of the world as they can have as many pølser (hotdog), ice-cream and brus (soda) as they want on that day!
Oslo being the capital, this is where the main festivities take place each year.
Marching bands play and some 60 000 children from more than 100 schools sing patriotic lyrics. The highlight of the march is when children pass the Royal Palace and exchange waves and greetings with the Royal Family.
The parade begins at 10am from Festninsplassen and finish in front of the Townhall at around 1pm.
The best views to enjoy the procession are on either side of Karl Johan St and in front of the Royal Palace.
I only assisted once at the celebration before and really enjoy it.
And I really wanted to be there today for the 200 anniversary of the Constitution.
My day started at 7:30 am when my father woke me up to be at 8:00 am at the cemetery Vår Frelsers gravlund to listen to people speaking about Norwegian famous people who played a role in the democracy. Then, we went to another cemetery where the Royal Guards played a song in front of Oberst Krebs´grave (a Norwegian hero). After, we went back home to have breakfat and began to watch the parade on TV. It was very clever as it was so overcrowded that it gave us the opportunity to spot the best place to stand, which was at the level of Slotten park, the Palace park. The procession was longer than usual and ended at 01:40 pm! Then, we met a friend of my father and had a couple of drinks, but it was very difficult to find a place with vacant seats.
We were very lucky with the weather, I even got sunburnt!
So my advice if you’re in Norway on that day, don’t plan anything as monuments, museums and shops will be closed and join the festivities!