by Kat Borgen Werbel a Norwegian in California
Norwegians celebrate their parallel to 4th of July on May 17th, remembering the 1814 constitution and following liberation from 400 years under Danish rule.
Two of Norway’s most known and loved poets, Henrik Wergeland and later Bjrnstjerne Bjrnson, worked with making this a national celebration, with emphasis on the children. During the German occupation under WWII the celebration was banned, but was even more so a very important day for the feeling of national fellowship.
Nowadays the holiday is a countrywide party, where a population emerging from a long cold winter celebrates freedom and the oncoming summer, many in intricate national costumes. And the children are still the main emphasis; open parties with games and music, where hot dogs and impressive amounts of ice cream is consumed, takes places at schools and community centers after the Children’s Parade.
The Children’s Parade is the day’s main attraction, every school in the country have parades with marching bands and children singing and waving flags. In Oslo, the capitol city, the long parade ends in front of the Royal Palace, where the children greet the Royal Family, who welcomes them from the balcony.
The day is also celebrated worldwide, at Norwegian embassies and seamen’s churches.