Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Constitution Day

17th of May is a big day in Norway. It commemorates the signing of the constitution in 1814, and has evolved into our biggest day of celebration and festivities. It's about freedom, democracy and independence, it's about the children, it's about national culture and heritage, and in my opinion it's about the coming of Spring and Summer too (which is why my daughter is wearing sandals in the photo, despite cold and rainy weather). (She is also wearing Swing Thing for the first time!)

The celebrations are centred around the children, who dressed in their best new clothes or national costumes, parade through their local community singing, cheering, waving little flags,and later in the day eating unlimited amounts of ice cream and hot dogs. The focus on the children, and the absence of official, military or political institutions makes the celebrations very special, and explain their unique appeal and popularity among the people. There's a good description here . In my town we have several international schools, and they participate in the childrens' parade too, waving their own flags alongside the Norwegian flags, and wearing their own national costumes. By participating they remind us that we're celebrating universal values - Constitution Day, despite all the flags, is not about nationalism.

It is also a very interesting day from a fiber crafts point of view. Norway has a still vital tradition surrounding our national costumes, called bunad. Many people own a traditional national costume, and 17th of May is the day when everybody wears their bunad. They are also worn for weddings, Christmas, christenings, well basically they are always considered proper dress for important occacions, even for gala. The bunads demonstrate the best of the traditional crafts, particularly in their elaborate embroideries. (the photos below are taken - without permission - from Husfliden).


Anne said...

That looks like Swing Thing to me - it fits then? ;-)

And I love the pictures of the bunad - I always longed for a national dress to wear when I was little.

I know the date of Constitution Day - my husband tried to book our tickets to go to Norway in 1999 on 17th May, and discovered that there was absolutely no-one at work in Norway!

MagFly said...

Gratulerer med dagen! Flott du endeleg fekk på ho jakka :-)

Beth S. said...

What a great day. :-) I like that it isn't necessarily a political day, even though it commemmorates an important political event. I have some Norwegian ancestry myself, and would love to see it first-hand one day. :-)

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