tirsdag 20. mai 2014

A great day to be in Norway

Not too many people put much importance on the 17th of May each year,  for them it is just another spring day.  In Norway the 17th holds a special meaning for the people.  On that day two hundred years ago, Norway signed its own constitution declaring it a separate kingdom in order to prevent it from being ceded to Sweden following the Napoleonic War.  This did not work out as planned, as after the war Sweden began hostilities towards Norway denying their independence and forcing them into a loose union.  Norway was able to keep their constitution so long as it was amended to maintain the union.  Despite not being completely independent, the Norwegian people began celebrating this day, however it as mostly students celebrating it, as the Swedish and Norwegian governments were afraid to allow it as it could be seen as revolt, and actually banned its celebration in the 1820's, however this was ended after the Battle of the Square in 1829 after conflict between those celebrating and soldiers lead to outrage from the public.  After the lifting of the ban, the day became much more popular, leading to the inclusion of addresses as well as parades.  One misconception that I had heard about the 17th of may, is that it is to celebrate the liberation of Europe after the surrender of the Nazis in World War Two,  while the dates are close, the war ending on may 9th.  Today, it is to celebrate the constitution, as well as the royal family.

There are many fun things to do during the day including the parades as well as a carnival.  The parades are different here than back home, because there is not just one parade, but several during the course of the day.  Another interesting difference is that the parades focus less on military, and more on the community,  the most popular parade being the children's parade.  Even more so, there is the the citizen's parade, which includes clubs and student groups from around the town.  I was excited to actually be invited to join in this parade.

It had been quite some time since I was in a parade, and I had forgotten how much fun it was.  the people here were very welcoming to our group, and we were encouraged to wave our flags and shout "Hurrah" as we as "Gratulerer med Dagen"  which means congratulations on the day.  It was also great to see people dressed in the traditional clothes of Norway called Bunad.

Wait...that's Mjolnir armor,  Norse name, but not Norse clothing.

This is what the Norwegian Traditional dress looks like, Bunad is a term that covers both men and women's clothing.  While the women's dress is very common to see, it was Mostly older men whom I saw wearing Bunad.

There is also the question of what are traditional foods to eat during the day, and I was surprised the find out that it is not very different from what we would eat for the fourth of July.  There were incredibly large lines of people queuing just to get either a hot dog or some ice cream.  Which on a side note, they have bacon wrapped hot dogs here, how they beat us to this technology is beyond me, but they are amazing and I will miss them once I go home.

Once the festivities died down, I returned home to relax for a few hours before heading over to a friends apartment for a party to wind down the day, which was great as we had a front row seat out their kitchen windows of a fireworks display.  It was amazing to experience another Country's independence day, as it gave me insight into how a country's past can influence how they celebrate their freedom.