Friday, May 22, 2015

Syttende mai -- the 17th of May (Constitution Day) -- in Norway

This past weekend, Norway celebrated its national day, syttende mai -- the 17th of May or Constitution Day. The first time our family experienced a 17th of May in Norway, we were in Bergen. I remember my husband telling us all that everyone dresses up, so we shouldn't dress too casually.  Norwegians in general are very outdoorsy and casual in their dress, so I was sure that this "dressing up thing" was something from my husband's childhood days in Norway, but not practiced today. To be safe, we all dressed up a little.  And we were glad we did.  Getting on the bus to attend the parade, we were shocked to see that everyone was in their finest and many in their beautiful bunad (national costumes). Each time I've seen the parade since, it has been no different.  One of my Norwegian friends said to me this year that syttende mai is one of the only times Norwegians dress up. 

The day starts with the school children's parade in the morning.  In Oslo it begins at the City Hall and progresses down Karl Johansagate up to the royal palace, where the royal family stand on a balcony and greet everyone.  There are thousands of flags, marching bands, and school children -- from the smallest on up. It's like nothing I've seen anywhere else. Conspicuously absent is any military presence in the parade.

Here's the royal family greeting the parade and their subjects.

This little girl has two reasons to celebrate. Her parents told me it's also her birthday.

I just love all the colorful national costumes.  Each type represents a different part of the country.  They're hand embroidered and very expensive -- a life-time investment.  I thought this photo captures
an interesting contrast of the traditional vs. technology.

I feel a special kinship to moms of three sons.  Wasn't it yesterday . . . ?

After the parade, we came home to this display of flags our landlord put up to celebrate.

We'd heard that Bygdøy, the area of Oslo where we live, has its own small children's parade that concludes at the Folkmuseum, which is open to the public for free on the 17th of May. We decided to go and check that out. There were lots of people there and they were selling food -- the traditional 17th of May pølser (hotdogs) in lømper (a rectangular lefse or potatoish pancake) and ice cream.  There was also a short service being held in the old stave church. Though we've been to the folk museum before, we've not been able to see much inside the stave church, so that was a treat. It was very dark inside, as there is no electrical lighting only natural light from the doorway and a few candles.

You must step over two of these door sills to enter the church -- one at the outside, and one to enter the sanctuary from the foyer.

Time to head home for our syttende mai meal.

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