Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Constitution Day

Today was an easy day for focusing on red for project spectrum. It was Constitution Day in Norway, and the color red is everywhere, from the flag to the details of peoples' national costumes (bunad), from the uniforms of the marching bands to the scruffy red overalls and traditional caps worn by the russ (high school graduates).

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.

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 is perhaps what make the celebrations unique, and explain their appeal and popularity among the people. We're all very proud of it and quite sentimental too. On Constitution Day, when you greet someone, you don't say "hello" or "good morning" or "how are you" - the proper greeting words on this day are "congratulations" or "happy birthday". Love it!

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.

Here are some more photos from the celebrations:

Marching band led by a Scotsman in his national costume. The person to the right is a "russ".

Marching band where the players wear national costumes instead of uniforms

School marching band with a mix of people in uniform, a person in Russ overalls (to the left) an d in the middle a person wearing a national costume. This is quite typical for the marching bands on May 17th. On any other day they would all be wearing their uniforms.

Games in the school playground after the big Childrens Parade. This is a photo of Nene wearing the bunad she got when she was four, sporting a new, bigger, apron which her grandmother has made.

Stavanger is the center for the oil industry in Norway, so obviously there's an oil worker marching band too in our parade!

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