Norway´s National Day

May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

May 17th is the national day of Norway and unlike in many other countries it is a day dedicated to the children. In Venezuela, where i grew up (as well as in many places around the globe), the national day is celebrated with military parades, politicians discourses on the importance of sovereignty or whatever the local issue at hand, and in general, it is an opportunity to take the day off and enjoy the beach, mountain or just plainly relax.

Norway is a bit different. People dress up with the national costumes (or try their best clothes), spring clean their houses, prepare special meals and lots of cakes, and wake up early to attend the local parade and school activities. Children are the focus of attention as they lead the parade (organized by their schools) and traditionally it is the day where they  are allowed eat as much ice cream and hot dogs as they want. Schools and parents prepare raffles, games and sell cakes and food to collect funds. As the weather in Norway is quite unreliable, people start speculating in advance whether that day it´s going to rain or not, how cold it´s going to be compared with previous year and where in the country is going to be warmest (not that it matters much because anyway everyone will try to attend the parade and the activities afterwards rain or not). The whole 17th of May deal is quite a different twist from the usually quite boring military exhibition.

However, complaints have shown up in the newspapers lately about people dropping the 17th of May festivities in order to travel or go to the mountains and not participating in their local parades. In the school that my daughter attends some parents have also mentioned this … Maybe some people are bored of the same activity year after year. Yet, I think that the majority are still quite patriotic in this sense. As a foreigner i do see it as a charming and special way to celebrate your independence. After all is it not the independence of the country the way to provide a different future for the new generations?

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P.S. If you are interested in the subject of how countries celebrate their national days, particularly in Norway, you may want to check this book  “Symbols of Nations and Nationalism: Celebrating Nationhood”

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