Hurray hurray for the 17th of May. If you have not already read Renny’s post you may not know that this is Norway’s Constitution Day. A lively day filled with parades, activities for the children, beautiful traditional clothes, blooming spring flowers, marching bands and plenty of ice cream and hot dogs.
Throughout the land schools set up local children’s parades. These parades are not for children – it is the children who are the stars of the show. Marching to the brass band, waving their flags and at their moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas along the crowded sidewalk they celebrate the day. All traffic comes to a standstill and the joy of the children and the band fills the air.
I remember so well when my children were small how they loved to get dressed up in their best clothes, usually needed new shoes each year for the occasion hehehe, and marching with their class. Afterwards the children school set up games and contests for the children. And the marching band had their cake sale so all the people could have something delicious to celebrate the day with.
One thing which can always be seen on the 17th of May is the Norwegian regional clothing called “Bundad”. Many Norwegians have invested in their local dress or suit which is used only for very special occasions such as weddings, christenings, confirmation, and of course the 17th of May. The costumes may look different when you see them in the photos, but each region has its own style. Hulda Garborg was one of the first to lead the effort to take care of the old Norwegian folk costume tradition. At the end of the 1800’s she began making costumes for the folk dancers to perform in, and it developed into an organisation of the “Bunad” tradition. The decoration on the bunad is representative of the district it comes from, often including local flowers or patterns from the region.
And of course the modern 17th of May celebration would not be complete without the Graduates celebration known as Russ. In the larger cities and especially in Oslo the Russ get together – 25 participants or so – and buy up a bus to travel around in their 1 month long celebration. They paint and decorate the busses and no Russ bus would be caught dead without a huge stereo system to wake all the neighbours and spark off the celebration!