Gateway to Norway: The Constitution Day Celebration

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God 17. Mai Norge!

In case you didn’t know, I recently got hitched to a Norwegian gentleman and that means I’m now calling Norway my new permanent home. My past trips have prepared me well on what it’s like to settle down here. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, and repeatedly mentioned this to my friends – Norway is an expensive country. Luckily, I’ve prepared myself for the move knowing that I’m not here to create a Scandinavian utopia. Being here feels like oasis – the biggest change for me is how I appreciate the nature and the slow-paced life even more. I feel lucky and fortunate to live in Norway as I get the chance to experience the best in everything but Malaysia will always be my forever home that I will truly miss from time to time.

Every nation has a national day, but no one does it better than the Norwegians. Celebrating Norway’s national day in Norway is a truly unique experience – I’ve never seen a nation celebrates it so enthusiastically with their own unique style and flair. Norway’s National Day falls on every 17th of May which commemorates the signing of Norways’s constitution at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814.

For many Norwegians, May 17th is a big deal, bigger than Christmas and this is the day where they go all out with their suits for men and ridiculously expensive traditional costumes for women known as “Bunad”. This is the day they really go in for national pageantry. It’s very interesting to witness such spectacle – dresses and Georgian-styled clothing  that are all inspired by folk costumes from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The celebratory spirit starts as early as 7am when marching bands, orchestras, commotion from the parade and even the sound of cannon explosions at some parts of Norway wake you up. You will then get all dressed up and enjoy a hearty champagne breakfast with your friends and family before making your way to the city to enjoy the extravagant parade. The whole spectacle will end at the Castle Square where the Royals bid their farewell and people start roaming around to find a lunch spot to settle down and continue the day eating and drinking.

Children have a special role in the celebrations. The biggest part of the event is dedicated to them as the main highlight of the day is the children’s parade. Besides having all the focus on the children, the top of list of bewildering is the russefeiring or russ – where the last year of highschool youth in rowdy multicoloured trousers will enjoy the last hurrah before they sit for the final school exams. This is an annual tradition where you will see decorated party busses driven on the road around Norway.

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The best bit about the day is being able to enjoy a carefree day with everyone who is in the festive mood, something you don’t get to see everyday (most of the time) here in Norway. No one does a better job in celebrating the National Day than the Norwegians! If you have the chance to visit Norway, May is the best month to do so – not only you get to enjoy the beautiful clear sky and exploring the stunning fjords on a sunny day, you also get to experience the biggest celebration in Norway!

 

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