When it comes to national pride, we could learn a lot from the Norwegians. Despite its large size and the wide geographical spread of its population, Norway is a country deeply unified and its people are proud of their heritage. So proud in fact, that every year on May 17th, they show the world just how much as they come together to celebrate Constitution Day.
From the smallest mountain hamlets to the largest towns and cities, babies, children, parents and grandparents unite to mark the day in 1814 they became a fully independent nation. Anybody who has been lucky enough to be in Norway on this day will know just how special it is. Even Norwegians living abroad still gather to celebrate together; such is their sense of pride!
Designated a national holiday, shops and offices are closed. Instead of people going about their normal business, the streets are filled with parades made up of marching bands and children waving flags and banners. In the biggest cities, these processions stretch for miles and the pavements are packed with spectators all keen to watch it pass. In the capital city, Oslo, the parade snakes past the Palace where the Royal Family wave to the crowd from the balcony.
Food plays a big part on May 17th, with ice cream and hotdogs the order of the day, especially for the children. Before the parades, a hearty May 17th breakfast is enjoyed by friends and neighbours, usually consisting of smoked salmon and scrambled egg. Restaurants are then packed during the late afternoon and into the evening as families get together to enjoy a special meal.
What makes this day so remarkable is the sheer scale of celebrations – enough to invoke a true sense of passion, community and belonging into the hardest of hearts. This is not a small group of people set on living in the past, but rather an entire community speaking with one voice to say ‘this is who we are and this is what we believe’!
It is a day when Norwegian pride runs high and national costume is worn by all, the style and colour of which, indicating where a person is from. There is no sense of mockery or embarrassment – just an acceptance of the sense of occasion fit only for best dress.
If you haven’t been to Norway for May 17th then you truly should. Visitors are actively encouraged to join in with these unique celebrations – something, which we guarantee, will create memories to remain with you for years to come.
Gratulerer med dagen to all of our Norwegian friends and colleagues celebrating this May 17th.