May 17th, is Norway's National Day. It is celebrated all across the nation, from the largest community to the smallest, with parades, bands, flags, national costumes, festival services and festivities with everyone taking part, marking the day in 1814, when Norway adopted its new Constitution.
With all of the important outdoor festivities, the weather is very important on this day, and the whole nation watches the weather forecasts days in advance, with joy or dismay as the case may be.
This year the weather forecast looks quite promising for the Northern part of the country, north of Bodø, with some sunshine most of the day, but with temperatures only up to 10 degrees Celcius. The western part will experience a mix of rain and shine, while for the rest of Southern Norway some rain is predicted, and less chance for sunshine. Temperatures may here be around 10-15 degrees Celcius.
In the nation's capital, Oslo, the children's parade is the main attraction, with all the city schools represented, 111 in all, each headed by the school's banner and brass band. This unique parade has become a world attraction, and each year thousands of visitors from all over the world come to watch. A few have been fortunate to obtain special seats set up in front of the Royal Palace, mainly reserved for diplomats and special guests.
The long parade march up Oslo's main street, Karl Johans gate, to the Royal Palace, where they are received by the Royal Family standing on the front balcony, waving to the crowd. This year is the 103rd time that the Norwegian Royal Family will greet the people from the balcony on the 17th of May.
The school children of the municipality of Asker just outside Oslo however, are particularly favoured on May 17th. Early in the morning, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit greet the youngsters as they parade past the Royal Family's country home at Skaugum. The couple receive flowers from two of the children. This has been a tradition for many years.
After several years of celebrating the Constitution Day attending a festive performance at the National Theatre in Oslo, the King and the Queen have the last few years changed this tradition by instead visiting other parts of the capital and nearby communities.
Norwegians abroad on this day are also sure to gather and celebrate Norway's birthday, be it at an embassy, a mission station, private arrangements, or not to forget the 32 Norwegian Seamen's churches around the world.
In most of these places there will also be parades, festival services, speeches and activities for the children, as well as coffee and the beloved Norwegian waffles.
In many cities and towns in the US, Australia and other countries where there are large enough communities of Norwegians or people of Norwegian descent, old traditions with parades and festive gatherings are still observed, although with celebrations often moved to the nearest weekend. No problem this year, though!
Finally, as usual on this day, we share with you a translation of a couple of verses of Norway's National Anthem:
(Ja, vi elsker)
Yes, We Love This Land of Ours
Yes, we love this land of ours.....as with mountain domes
Storm-lash'd o'er the sea it towers with the thousand homes.
Love it dearly, ever thinking....of our fathers' strife,
And the land of Saga sinking, dreams upon our life,
And the land of Saga sinking, sinking dreams upon our life.
Norsemen, in whatever station, thank your mighty God;
He has kindly saved our nation from oppression's rod.
That for which our sires contended and our mothers wailed,
Silently the Lord defended, so our rights, our rights prevailed.
Best wishes on the day from us all here at The Norway Post!