17th of May in Norway

May 17th Norwegian Constitution Day: A Guide to 17th of May in Norway

May 17th Oslo Norway Syttende Mai Parade
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Norwegian Constitution Day, commonly known as May 17th or Syttende Mai, holds a special place in the hearts of Norwegians as they commemorate the signing of their constitution in 1814. This beloved national holiday is marked by vibrant parades, traditional costumes, delicious food, and heartfelt celebrations across the country. Join us as we delve into the history, customs, and festivities that make May 17th a cherished occasion in Norway.

Step into the vibrant world of Norwegian culture and join the festivities as we celebrate May 17th, Norwegian Constitution Day. With a rich history and treasured traditions, this national holiday holds a special place in the hearts of Norwegians across the globe. Dating back to 1814, the signing of the Norwegian Constitution marked a significant milestone for the country's independence. Today, the day is commemorated with a lively parade of flag-waving schoolchildren, traditional costumes, and a joyful atmosphere. Dive deeper into the origins of Norwegian Constitution Day and uncover the intriguing stories behind this cherished celebration. From the traditional bunads (folk costumes) representing different regions to the delectable culinary delights enjoyed during the festivities, there's a captivating tale behind every aspect of this unique holiday. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a culture aficionado, or simply curious about the traditions of nations around the world, join us as we explore the vibrant history and traditions of Norwegian Constitution Day. Prepare to be captivated by the spirit and splendor of this remarkable celebration.

Eidsvoll Norway
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History of Norwegian Constitution Day

May 17th, 1814, marks a pivotal moment in Norwegian history when the Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll. This document laid the foundation for Norway's independence and sovereignty, establishing it as a constitutional monarchy. Despite initial challenges and subsequent unions with Sweden and Denmark, May 17th remained a symbol of Norwegian identity and aspirations for self-governance.


Origins of Norwegian Constitution Day

The idea of celebrating May 17th as a national holiday began in the early 19th century. After Norway gained independence from Denmark in 1814, the constitution was signed on May 17th at Eidsvoll, marking the country's emergence as a sovereign nation. Initially, May 17th was celebrated primarily by the urban elite, but over time, it evolved into a nationwide celebration involving people from all walks of life.

May 17th celebrations in Bergen Norway
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Significance of May 17th in Norwegian culture

May 17th holds immense significance in Norwegian culture as it symbolizes the country's independence and freedom. It is a day of national pride and unity, when Norwegians come together to celebrate their heritage and values. The date is also tied to the end of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905, further strengthening its importance. Norwegians view May 17th as a time to reflect on their history and appreciate the rights and freedoms they enjoy today.


17.mai tog i Norge 17th of May parade
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Traditions and customs of Norwegian Constitution Day

Norwegian Constitution Day is marked by a series of cherished traditions and customs that are passed down from generation to generation. One of the most prominent customs is the morning parade, where schoolchildren march through the streets waving Norwegian flags and singing patriotic songs. This tradition showcases the importance of education and instills a sense of national pride in the younger generation.


Syttende Mai in Oslo Norway
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Parades and festivities on May 17th

The highlight of Norwegian Constitution Day is undoubtedly the colorful parades that take place across the country. Every city, town, and village comes alive with music, dance, and the joyful spirit of celebration. The parades feature marching bands, local organizations, and schoolchildren in traditional costumes, creating a vibrant spectacle that captivates both locals and visitors. The atmosphere is filled with excitement and camaraderie as people line the streets, cheering and waving flags.


Norwegian celebration of Syttende Mai Women in bunads
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National costumes (bunad) on Norwegian Constitution Day

A significant aspect of Norwegian Constitution Day is the traditional attire known as the bunad. These folk costumes are unique to different regions of Norway and represent the cultural heritage and history of each area. The bunad is intricately designed, often featuring hand-embroidered patterns and intricate jewelry. Wearing a bunad on May 17th is a way for Norwegians to honor their ancestry and showcase their regional pride.


17th of May food and desserts
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Traditional food and drinks on May 17th

No celebration is complete without indulging in delicious food and drinks, and Norwegian Constitution Day is no exception. Traditional dishes such as smoked salmon, cured meats, and a variety of cheeses are enjoyed during festive gatherings. Another popular treat is the "kransekake," a tower-like cake made from almond paste. To accompany the food, Norwegians often raise a glass of aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit, or enjoy a refreshing glass of sparkling cider.


A Norwegian flag ribbon decoration for May 17th

Celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day outside of Norway

Norwegian Constitution Day is not limited to Norway alone. Norwegians living abroad and individuals of Norwegian descent around the world also join in the festivities. Communities organize their own parades, cultural events, and traditional meals to honor their heritage. This global celebration serves as a reminder of the strong connections Norwegians maintain with their roots, regardless of where they may reside.


The Norwegian flag waving with the Norwegian nature in the background

Fun facts about Norwegian Constitution Day

Here are some fascinating facts about Norwegian Constitution Day that add to its allure:

  1. Norwegians refer to May 17th as "Syttende Mai," which means "17th of May" in Norwegian.
  2. The Norwegian royal family greets the crowds from the balcony of the Royal Palace in Oslo during the parade. 
  3. The largest parade on May 17th takes place in Oslo, attracting thousands of participants and spectators.
  4. The first official celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day outside of Norway took place in Minnesota, USA, in 1869. 
  5. In some regions of Norway, horse-drawn carriages are a prominent feature of the parades, adding a touch of elegance and tradition to the festivities.

The Norwegian Flag

Conclusion

May 17th, Norwegian Constitution Day, is a day of jubilation and reflection, where Norwegians celebrate their independence and embrace their cultural heritage. From the historical significance of the signing of the constitution to the vibrant parades, traditional costumes, and delectable food, this national holiday encapsulates the spirit and splendor of Norway. Whether you're in Norway or abroad, join the festivities and immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions of Norwegian Constitution Day.

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