Hello There! How is your day going thus far? Are you aware that today is not only full of unofficial observances such as World Baking Day and Pack Rat Day, but it is also an honest-to-goodness bonafide holiday! What holiday is it, you ask? Welp, it's Norwegian Consititution Day! Also known simply as Sittende Mai (May 17th), Norwegian Constitution Day takes place around the world on May 17th.
On May 17, 1814 Norway signed its Consititution to avoid being ceded to Sweden after a devistating defeat during the Napoleonic Wars. The celebration of this day began spontaneously by students to who psyched to have their Norway back! For a long time King Karl Johan actually banned the celebrations, thinking that the gatherings were an act of revolt or rebellion. It took many many years for Constitution Day to be established as a holiday. In 1864 the first Childrens Parade took place.
Childrens Parades are a key event for any Sytennde Mai celebration. Children march around the community, often wearing traditional Norwegian garb and holding Norwegian flags while singing the National Anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet". In addition to parades, there are many other celebrations including parties, musical performances, speeches, food and yes, even lutefisk! Celebrations take place all across Norway in larger cities such as Oslo, Kristiansand and Bergen, and in smaller towns such as Akser and Ullensaker. Syttende Mai is also celebrated by many Norwegian immigrant communities in the United States and across the world. Stoughton, Wisconsin; Petersburg, Alaska; Brooklyn, New York; and Seattle, Washington all have large Norwegian communities and celebrate Syttende Mai in a big way! Scotland, Sweden, and New Zealand also have large celebrations.
Syttende Mai is about celebrating Norways Independence, but it is also about inclusion and diversity. Young and old, rich and poor, those from near and far... all are welcome! So go find a Syttende Mai celebration near you today and say a rousing "Hep Hep!" for Syttende Mai!