Celebrating Norway’s National Day, 17th May

I’ve celebrated Norway’s national day or “syttende mai” (17th May) in Sydney with a few hundred Norwegians before, but in 2013 I celebrated in the capital of Norway with many, many thousands of Norwegians.

Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional  Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Royal Palace

Originally I thought Norway’s national day was a type of Independence Day, but it’s actually their Constitution Day. On the 17th May 1814, the Constitution of Norway was signed as an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden.

We started the day with a champagne brunch, which seems to be the popular thing to do in Oslo.

Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Champagne Breakfast  Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Champagne Breakfast  Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional

Afterwards, we headed in to the centre of Oslo to watch the parade. Each major town or city hosts a parade, but Oslo, being the capital, hosts the largest. Local organisations, schools and the military all march, waving flags and playing music throughout the city centre. On the national television station, NRK, you can see what other towns are doing, not just in Norway, but also around the world.

Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Parade   Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Parade  Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Parade

The streets are lined with spectators waving Norwegian flags and many are wearing the traditional costume, known as a bunad. Here are a couple of photos of a quite a formal looking bunad for men and a family of bunad wearers…

Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Bunad  Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Bunad

I too wore a bunad. A lovely friend of mine lent me hers. Like a tartan kilt, a bunad’s design is regional. The one I wore came from Frafjord in Rogaland. The bunads are usually quite an investment. Not only are they handmade with wool and silk, they are adorned with silver jewelery. They are designed to last a lifetime, or in the case of mine, many lifetimes, as it belonged to my friend’s Grandmother. It was such a privilege and a pleasure to where one.

Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Bunad

The graduating high school students, known as Russ, also parade. The Russ stand out in their red, blue or black overalls. They have been partying for around three weeks prior to this day and some of them look like they have.

Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Russ  Norway, Oslo, 17th May, 17. Mai, National Day, Traditional, Russ

Why am I in Norway? I moved here in 2012 as part of my #1 bucket list item: live overseas. I didn’t originally expect it to be Norway, but with a Norwegian partner, it was good to live in a place that at least one of us could get a get a job.

Want to know what else is on my bucket list, check out my Pinterest board.

How do you celebrate your country’s national day? Be it at home or abroad.

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