Norwegian Constitution Day (Nasjonaldagen, Grunnlovsdagen, syttende mai) is the national day of Norway and is the official public holiday celebrated on May 17 each year.
It is considered, today, the second oldest national constitution in Europe.
The Constitution of Norway, signed at Eidsvoll town on May 17 in 1814, declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars.
After 1864 the first children’s parade was launched and that became the center of the whole celebration.
It’s the only non-army parade in the world that celebrates a national country day.
The celebration of the 17th of May starts early in the morning. Raising a flag at 8 am is followed by a festive breakfast with a lot of champagne.
The children’s parade, with kids from around 100 schools in Oslo, together with their teachers and brass band, starts from Youngstorget, crosses the Karl Johan gate all the way up to the Royal palace where the Royals are waiting on the balcony. After the parade, the kids go back to schools where they eat sausages, waffles, ice cream or play various types of games.
The adults drink a lot of alcohol and have festive lunches at the restaurants or back home. But no matter the place where the Syttende mai is celebrated they are dressed very nice. If they’re not wearing traditional costume called bunad, whose colors, patterns and accessories vary from a region their Norwegian ancestors come from, they dress in the colors of the Norwegian flag.
Everyone has details in red or blue, or a small flag in their hands. Norwegians are big nationalists and traditionalists and they are very proud of their National day. All the major shops are closed, as well as offices or institutions. Days before the celebration everything is decorated with flags and clothes shops sell outfits in blue or red color.
Everybody’s smiling and the phrase you’ll hear everywhere is Glatureler med dagen that means happy birthdays, as it is the birthday of a country of Norway!