Children waving flags at the Constitution Day parade in 2015, via Norwegian Armed Forces
When is Constitution Day in Norway?
The Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway and is an official national holiday each year on May 17.
Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth), Nasjonaldagen (National Day) or less commonly, Grunnlovsdagen (Constitution Day).
This public holiday marks the day in 1814 when Norway adopted its constitution.
History of Constitution Day in Norway
Norway's Constitution which declared the country as a kingdom independent of Sweden after the Napoleonic Wars , was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May 1814. The constitution was based on American and French models, and elected the Crown Prince of Denmark and Norway, Christian Frederick, as king.
While full independence was not achieved until 7 June 1905, 17th May remains Norway's National Day.
The Norwegian parliament, held the first 17th of May celebration in 1836, and since then on the 17th of May has been regarded as the national day.
The 17th of May celebrations vary across Norway, but they all follow a traditional pattern that makes this a day centered on children.
The highlights are the children’s processions, made up of school classes marching through the local community, led by the school band. Most children have their own small Norwegian flag to wave, and the route is lined with enthusiastic onlookers.
After the procession there are games, entertainments and film shows, and plenty of hot dogs and ice cream.
The first children’s processions were arranged in 1870. Since 1906, the Royal Family have gathered on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Oslo to wave to the children marching by.
Did you know?
There are over 4.5 million people of Norwegian ancestry in the United States today. The population of Norway is 5.2 million.
The first polar bear in Britain arrived in the 13th century as a gift from King Haakon IV of Norway to Henry III. Henry kept it at the Tower of London and let it swim on the end of a rope in the Thames. Nowadays the more practical gift from Norway to Britain is the Christmas Tree that is erected at Trafalgar Square each year.
Norway’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch painted four versions of his Scream painting. One of which was stolen in 1994 and again in 2004.
Norway is the most successful nation in the world at the Winter Olympics and it is one of just three countries (the other two being Austria and Liechtenstein) who have won more medals at the Winter Games than at the Summer Games.
Since 1864, May 17 has also been Children's Day in Norway, with a tradition that on the day, children can eat as much ice cream as they want.