4 Reasons To Celebrate The Norwegian National Day In The Country's Capital Of Oslo
We celebrate the Norwegian National Day on the 17th of May every year; not only is it of great historic significance to Norwegians, it's also symbolically known as the Children’s Day; with children being the future of the nation.
17th May marks the 1814 founding of the Norwegian constitution, and represents our independence from a long-standing union with our neighbours Sweden and Denmark. Far from being a quiet day of reflection, our national day is all about celebrating. Do you happen to be in Norway during the 17th May?
Every 17th of May the Norwegian Royal Family stands on the Castle-balcony and greet the people. The Royal Castle faces the capital’s main commercial shopping-strip, the historic Karl Johan’s Gate. During our National Day celebrations, all the city’s primary schools participate in a children’s march through the city that eventually passes the Royal Castle. Waving their flags to greet the King and his family is for many kids the absolute highlight of their National Day celebrations.
The National Day is an official day off in Norway, if the weather is nice it seems everyone makes their way into town. Every precinct; whether its parks, beaches, gardens or cafes with outdoor seating; is packed to the brim with happy locals. The day is about celebrating our country and our national freedom. The vibe is a happy and excited one. There's no better time to be a tourist; the locals will happily tell you what 17th May is all about.
The Norwegian national costume, the bunad, is a beautiful traditional garment that takes time and skill to design. Covered in intricate hand-embroidered patterns on beautiful natural shades of woollen fabric, embellished with specific jewellery and headdresses; the bunads are truly a lovely and unique sight. Every Norwegian district has their own historic bunad. On 17th of May it's custom to wear your bunad: it indicates where in Norway your family is from. Oslo is an international as well as national melting-pot: On our National Day you’ll see the huge range of stunning bunads on both men and women.
There’s something touching about watching the excitement of thousands of children, dressed in their best (and often brand new) outfits as they parade through the city towards the Royal Castle. While the day is enjoyable for the grown-ups, it’s absolutely magic for the kids. With each school organising their own special celebrations (similar to a smaller fair or fete by Australian standard) for their students, staff and parents, it’s a day filled with treats, raffle-prizes, helium-balloons, flags, ribbons and rides. You haven’t done 17th of May properly unless you feel overly full on hot-dogs, ice-cream and freshly made waffles.
As we say in Norwegian, “Gratulerer med dagen!” (Happy birthday/ Congratulations on the Day).
Images credit: VisitOSLO/Heidi Thon, VisitOSLO/Thomas Johannessen, merethe/Foap/Visitnorway.com, Nancy Bundt Visitnorway.com, Terje Rakke/Nordic life - Visitnorway.com and Johan Wildhagen - Visitnorway.com