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May 17th, Constitution Day, Trondheim, Norway









May 17th, Constitution Day, Trondheim, Norway

The Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway, and is an official national holiday each year.
Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as søttende/syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth), Nasjonaldagen
(The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day). The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll
on May 17th in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent nation.

A noteworthy aspect of the Norwegian Constitution Day is its very non-military nature.
All over Norway, children's parades with an abundance of flags form the central elements of the celebration.
Each elementary school district arranges its own parade with marching bands between schools. The parade takes
the children through the community, often making stops at homes of senior citizens, war memorials, etc.
The longest parade is in Oslo, where some 100,000 people travel to the city center to participate
in the main festivities. This is broadcast on TV every year, with commentary on costumes, banners etc.,
together with local reports from celebrations around the country. The massive Oslo parade includes
some 100 schools, marching bands, and passes the royal palace where the royal family greets the people
from the main balcony. The children also make a lot of noise shouting "Hurrah!," singing, blowing
whistles, and shaking rattles.

Typically a school’s children parade will consist of some senior school children carrying the school’s official
banner, followed by a handful of other older children carrying full-sized Norwegian flags, and then the
school’s marching band. After the band, the rest of the school children follow with hand-sized flags,
often with the junior forms first, and often behind self-made banners for each form or even individual class.
Nearby kindergartens may also have been invited to join. As the parade passes, bystanders often join in
behind the official parade, and follow the parade back to the school. Depending on the community,
the parade may make stops at particular sites along the route, such as a nursing home or war memorial.
In Oslo, the parade stops at the Royal Palace while Skaugum, the home of the crown prince, has been
a traditional waypoint for parades in Asker.

During the parade a marching band will play and the children will sing lyrics about the celebration of the National Day.
The parade concludes with the stationary singing of the national anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet"
(typically verses 1, 7 and 8), and the royal anthem "Kongesangen".

On that special day, people typically wear red, white, and blue ribbons. Most people dress up in their best
spring clothes, with a Norwegian flag or 17th of May ribbon pinned on their lapel. It has become increasing
popular to wear national dress – the bunad – on this occasion. There are many different forms of the bunad
from various parts of the country, and it is a magnificent sight to see so many national costumes at one time.

In addition to children's parades, there are parades for the public, where every citizen is welcome to join.
These are led by marching bands and often local boy scouts and girl guides, local choirs, etc. This takes
place in the early morning or in the afternoon, before or after the school's parade.

All parades begin or end with speeches. Both adults and older children are invited to speak. After the parades,
there are games for the children, and often a lot of ice cream, lollipops, sweets, and pølse (hotdogs) are consumed.

In Trondheim, children from all of the city's schools parade the streets in the morning. Later in the afternoon,
the "Citizens Parade" (Borgertoget) starts. This is a parade where firefighters, sports teams, students
associations, and other associations are represented.





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