The 17th May is yet another public holiday in Norway although sadly, this year, a Saturday. This time it is the National Constitution Day, celebrating Norway’s declaration as an independent state in 1814 (although still under Swedish rule). The day is very much targeted at the young and as we ate our breakfast we could see the local children gathering at the school for the raising of the flag. Unfortunately, it was to prove to be the coldest National Day for fifty years and at this point was actually snowing!
We then followed a group of children down the hill to the city centre where a massive parade takes place. We had been given tickets by the relocation company for the enclosure in front of the palace so were well placed to view the procession and the reception by the royal family from their balcony. That said, with the freezing cold and rain, the main street was not as packed as it might normally be. After about an hour of watching the children and school bands march past we had to head for the warmth of home.
For the rest of the day’s entertainment we have to thank Sophie and Finn from the orienteering club. This began with hot dogs (pølse) and cream cakes courtesy of Sophie’s family. We then headed over to Rikshospitalet to join in their local parade with the younger children. Fortunately by this point the sun was out. Josephine was awake but Emma slept through the marching band as she had for much of the morning’s action! The parade ended at the school where various games had been laid on for the children. We indulged in another tradition – ice cream!
A large proportion of the population were clothed in the national dress for the day and even those who weren’t were very smartly attired. I have to say that this may be the first occasion on which I’ve seen a Norwegian man wearing a suit and tie!
We’ve been trying to figure out the closest occasion that Britain has to the Norwegian National Day but failed. Some sort of mix of St George’s Day, Trooping the Colour and school sports day is about as close as I can get. Perhaps we do need a constitution after all?!