Can I just say, I’m so excited about this weekend! Even when I’m here in the UK, the 17th of May brings a warm fussy feeling in the colours red, white and blue. It’s Norway’s National Day, when all Norwegians and friends of Norway celebrate the constitution of 1814. Is it a big deal? Oh yes. Huge! Today it’s one of the happiest countries in the world, with a great sense of freedom and pride. But it was not always like this, as Norway was rules by Denmark for a very long time, and then traded over to Sweden for a while too. So having its own Constitution and freedom means a lot.
So what happens in Norway on this glorious day? Well, it’s one big party from morning to night. For school children it starts with getting ready for the big parades. I remember feeling very excited about this, dressing up in my national costume (“bunad”) and walking through the streets with the whole school, passing a vast number of people cheering along with us from the side of the street. Having a flag to wave is very important, and you sing out “Hipp Hipp Heisann Hurra” with a big smile on your face. This may sound cheesy, but believe me, you get carried away with the atmosphere pretty quickly.
A more grown up start to the day holds a champagne breakfast, with strawberries and perhapssmoked salmon. But for everyone it’s a day filled with lots of food and drink, lots of ice cream, and smiling to everyone and saying “Gratulerer med dagen”, which means “congratulations on the day” (or happy birthday, if you will). It often involves a fair bit of walking, as you move from one place/house/pub/restaurant/cafe to the next, and most streets are closed for cars anyway. Picture streets flooded with people in national customer, waving red, white and blue flags, and happy greetings. And there you have it. Pure happiness.
Norway as its own nation, not someone else’s.
The national costume is fabulous, but you can also simply dress up in your best clothes, and celebrate your heart out. Personally, I think one of the loveliest things kids can wear is a sailor dress or sailor cardigan.
For the best possible experience of this glorious day, being in Norway is of course going to be your best bet. But there will be celebrations in various places across the world too, and if you’re in or near London they do lots of fun stuff there. Have a look here for the Southwark Park celebrations.
Gratulerer med dagen, Norge!