Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway and is an official national holiday observed on May 17 each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth), Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day), although the latter is less frequent.
The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent nation.
A noteworthy aspect of the Norwegian Constitution Day is its very
non-military nature. All over Norway, children's parades with an
abundance of flags form the central elements of the celebration. Each elementary school district arranges its own parade with marching bands between schools. The parade takes the children
through the community, often making stops at homes of senior citizens,
war memorials, etc. The longest parade is in Oslo,
where some 100,000 people travel to the city centre to participate in
the main festivities. This is broadcast on TV every year, with comments
on costumes, banners etc., together with local reports from celebrations
around the country. The massive Oslo parade includes some 100 schools,
marching bands, and passes the royal palace where the royal family greet
the people from the main balcony.
Typically a school’s children parade will consist of some senior
school children carrying the school’s official banner, followed by a
handful of other older children carrying full size Norwegian flags, and
the school’s marching band. After the band the rest of the school
children follow with hand sized flags, often with the junior forms
first, and often behind self made banners for each form or even
individual class. Nearby kindergartens may also have been invited to
join in. As the parade passes, bystanders often join in behind the
official parade, and follow the parade back to the school. Depending on
the community, the parade may make stops at particular sites along the
route, such as a nursing home or war memorial. In Oslo the parade stops
at the Royal Palace while Skaugum, the home of the crown prince, has been a traditional waypoint for parades in Asker.
During the parade a marching band will play and the children will
sing lyrics about the celebration of the National Day. The parade
concludes with the stationary singing of the national anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" (typically verses 1, 7 and 8), and the royal anthem "Kongesangen".
In addition to flags, people typically wear red, white and blue
ribbons. Although a long-standing tradition, it has lately become more
popular for men, women, and children to wear traditional outfits, called
bunad. The children also make a lot of noise shouting "Hurra!", singing, blowing whistles and shaking rattles.
In addition to children's parades, there are parades for the public,
where every citizen is welcome to join in. These are led by marching
bands and often local boy scouts and girl guides, local choirs, etc.
This takes place in the early morning or in the afternoon, before or
after the school's parade.
All parades begin or end with speeches. Both grown-ups and older
children are invited to speak. After the parades, there are games for
the children, and often a lot of icecream, pop, sweets and hotdogs are
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