About the changing world all around us

Norway is about to celebrate its constitution day, the 17th of May, as our regular readers know we post about this each year. This year’s post is an ode to the marching band, the “skolekorps” which has a place near and dear to my heart as it does for many Norwegians. You see this is an activity we were involved in for many years as my youngest son played the drums in the marching band. I only need to hear a snare drum to get all teary eyed. The drums are the motor of the marching band you know 😉

17th of May Parade in Norway #1

Local Parade all photos by RennyBA

I really appreciate how they celebrate the 17th of May in Norway. All the children in the land look forward to the 17th of May because it is a celebration where children play a central role. The main part of the celebration is a parade, but this is not a big parade with floats, or military forces, it’s lots and lots of small local parades led by the local school children’s marching band.

Local Parade all photos by RennyBA

Local Parade all photos by RennyBA

The school grounds are decorated with flags and birch branches tied up with ribbons (a tribute to spring), and all the children are dressed in their best clothes. Many have bunad, traditional costumes which you can read about on RennyBA’s Terella. Each class decorates their class flag and practice songs and marching for the big day. The classes march together one after another with the marching band in the lead, and all the parents and grandparents on the sides of the street wave and cheer as the march by! Put yourself right now in a child’s shoes, how great would that feel to march along by your best friends side and see your parents teary eyed cheering along the parade route. We participated in this many years, you know. I assure you it was a big deal!

It was a really big deal in our family because our day usually started with getting Kyle pressed and dressed and up to the Band Breakfast by 7 am. They played for the flag raising and ate a good breakfast together (and had lots of fun), then they had a parade around the local nursing home, and a preschool to cheer up both young and old. Then at 9 am we had to be dressed in our best and ready at school ourselves, usually with a couple cakes in hand for the bake sale, because that’s when the real festivities began. Speeches, and then the out march, the parade lasted about an hour maybe a bit more visiting the pension home, and many neighborhoods in the area.  At the end they march back to the school, more speeches and a song from the choir and then of course Norway’s National Anthem. The ceremony was followed by a couple more hours of games, activities and competitions arranged by the school.

Marching class by class

Marching class by class

Talking about “dugnad” as Corrine recently wrote about…the whole day is based on initiative of the parents. There is a dugnad to clean up the school grounds, and one to decorate it. We stood and sold cakes every year to raise money for the marching band (which is free by the way except for paying a portion of the music lessons) running the games, and of course cleaning up afterwards. On this day the children traditionally get to eat sweets and as much ice cream as they can manage. The Norwegian families are usually relative restrictive with sweets, so the children are often talking about how many ice pops they will eat that day.

Now that my children are bigger we have a quieter 17th of May, but we normally attend the parade and watch the other children. We still have a lot of good memories of when ours were small.

Little Kyle

Little Kyle

To all my Norwegian readers, Happy 17th of May!! Remember to stop and read RennyBA’s post on the 17th of May and give him your best wishes for the day.

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Comments on: "No 17th of May without the marching band!" (14)

  1. Do you know if a similar event exist in Sweden? I’m currently reading a book that takes place here, and one of the event described really look like this one.

    Anyway, that looks like tons of fun for the kids! Even grown up ones 😉

  2. Sweden doesn’t have school ‘korps’ as Norway does, its rather unique in that way, however midsummer is celebrated big with family gatherings, and dancing around the May pole, wreathes of flowers in their hair…maybe that is what you have read about now?

  3. Gratulerer med dagen. Vi er i Spania, men vi har norsk flagg ‘cookies’ fra vår venn i usa! http://treats-sf.blogspot.com/

    • Yes, Norwegian flag cookies! Thats a first. I wouldn’t mind being in Spain right now – my kids are no longer so small…I can travel. I could like sing the National Anthem on the beach???

  4. Looks like our 21st of July ! and that day it usually rains, lol !

    • Well, thats always a danger here too. My sons band uniform came with a see through plastic rain jacket just in case, cover for his cute little hat and even a shield for his drum. As they say in Norway – there’s no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes Hahaha. But really most do pray for sunshine!

  5. Michele said:

    Happy 17th of May to you, too, Diane! This will be my fourth in Norway and I have yet to see the barnetog. (Since I don’t have children, there’s no one to force me out of bed on holidays…) If I start working at the barnehage in August, though, I can’t imagine missing the parade, so maybe next 17th of May will be the one!

    • Well if you wake up early this year take a look 🙂 And if not find a good way to celebrate the day anyway! Good luck on the job hunting. Working in the barnehagen is lots of fun, I did it for a few years too. You learn a lot from kids.

  6. Great tradion and nice to see little Kyle.

    It seems you are in Mariestad;)

    Have a great 17. mai

    We are about to start 600 Questions here (Anna and Sølvi are the competitors and papa is the judge;) )

  7. Happy 17th of May! Nice photos and I can’t wait to see the parade here in Bergen and snap some photos too!

  8. […] their school or their class, in front. You may read more about the marching band at my wife DianeCA’s post. Marching out from the school with the Principal in the lead (to the right) in his […]

  9. We haven’t such parade with schools here! Sad! Looks like a lot of joy and fraternity!

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