17th of May is the National Day of Norway and celebrates the day Norway got its own constitution, in 1814. It is a day where Norwegians parade around wearing woollen dresses and wave flags whilst eating hot dogs and ice cream.
Why is it such a big deal?
From early 1400s to 1814, Norway was in a union with Denmark where the Danes had most of the say (this period is often referred to as the 400-year night in Norway). In 1814, following the loss of the Napoleon war (King of Denmark was allied with Napoleon) Norway was taken from Denmark and gifted to Sweden. This union lasted until 1905.
In other words, Norway is a historically young country and the national day is celebrated greatly across the country. It’s a big deal – and Norwegians are generally very patriotic.
So.. How do I celebrate it?
What to wear:
You need a bunad. If you haven’t got one, your finest suit or dress is also acceptable – especially if you go with the Norwegian colour-scheme of red, white and blue. At the very least, pop a ribbon on yourself.
Norwegian flag. Get yourself a Norwegian hand-waving flag and wave it all day. Swap arms if you get tired, place it in your pocket or bag if you absolutely cannot wave any more – but remember – the flag must never ever point downwards (treason!).
What to do and eat:
Wake up at the crack of dawn, out on your bunad and have a lovely champagne breakfast with friends and family. Scrambled eggs, salmon, sour cream porridge, cured ham, strawberries and at least one cake plus bubbles is the least you can expect (sounds nice? Join our brunch in Southwark Park on Tuesday!)
Say ‘Gratulerer med dagen‘ (congratulations) to everyone.
Practice your straight back and patriotic face for all the singing of ‘ Ja vi elsker’.
(Have children? Buy them an expensive balloon and tie it around their wrist. Do not be surprised when you see it travel up, up, up and away in ten minutes. Yep – that’s £5 gone and your little one crying.)
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