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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.