This year Norway’s National Constitution day, 17th of May, should be a big deal. It will mark 200 years since the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814, a day remembered in Norway when the country took a stand to claim independence from Danish rule. However, the day is turning out to be just a regular 17th of May.
From what I’ve seen, preparations from around the country have been quite modest, and it seems this 17th of May will be treated just like any other 17th of May. I’ve been asking around my city if people know of anything extra special happening. No one seems to know, that paper isn’t saying anything, and the general idea is that it is up to Oslo to do something special (and pay for it).
Experiencing a 200 year celebration while in my home country with World expo 88, a year long celebration with exhibition houses from all over the world, I’m a little perplexed as to why not much thought and effort is going into this years 200 anniversary celebrations in Norway. I’m presuming there will be a grander TV presentation and likely a tour around the country by the Royal family, but other than that I think Norway will just celebrate like any other year. I’m afraid this special event will reflect Norway’s claim for independence in 1814 – one big anti-climax. (If you didn’t know, a couple of months after Norway claimed independence in 1814, Sweden ‘acquired’ rule over Norway again until 1905.)
Our family will likely do the usual too, ‘when in Norway…’, so to speak – watching the preparations from around the country on TV while we get ready for the day, attend the gathering/activity at the local primary school before the parade, marching in the parade and then gathering in the city centre for the regular speeches and band music before going home for a pølse BBQ, ice cream and bløtkake. A very casual day really. The day is considered a family and community day so activities are not usually grand and extravagant; the day is primarily focused for the kids, the day is their day.
However, our family is preparing to put a few extra smiles on kid’s faces. Our dogs always walk with us in the parade. It started out as training for them to get used to big crowds but now they have become a fun feature in our parade group. This year we are going all the way with our dogs having their own special dress. We had planned on making Bunads for the dogs but they are both males dogs and our city doesn’t currently have a Bunad for men. So, the Norwegian flag will just have to do. It took a little while for Bear, our Saint, to realize that we were dressing him, not playing with him, but I guess that is what dress rehearsals are for!
If you are looking to put a little Norway into your 17th of May, visit our Celebrate Norway pages for some ideas and more info on traditions and culture.