The 17th of May is a sacred day for many Norwegians. It is the day of the Norwegian constitution, which heroically even more sacred, since it remarks the independence from the Swedish kingdom, and then from the Danish kingdom, and back again to the Swedes (the Danish and the Swedish kingdoms were constantly in war back then; and when the Danes chose a wrong guy, a.k.a Napoleon, in one of the wars, they had to hand over Norway, in tears, to their viking brother across the Øresund channel – the Swedes).
The Norwegian constitution (May 17, 1814) is an inspiration for the danish constitution (June 5, 1849). In Denmark, the constitution also remarks the end of the absolute monarchy in the country. However, because Denmark had been for ages being a wealthy powerful kingdom, the constitution has merely been seen as an noble moment at the parliament by many danes; it does not carry the same emotional degree as the constitution in Norway, which seen by many as a symbol of freedom and sovereignty. That is why the norwegians around the world dedicate the 17th of may as a holiday to celebrate, throw party, dress in bunad (norwegian traditional dress), parade along the street while waving the norwegian flag, and enjoy massive amounts of beers and foods (including the classic pølse og lompe: a grill sausage, wrap in oat bread & soft ice). On the contrary, the celebration scene like this is hardly found during the constitutional day in Denmark.
Last year, I celebrated the 17th of May with my parents-in-law in Norway. But this year, my norwegian husband and I decided to stay in our home, in Copenhagen, and joined the norwegian community for the party.
We just dressed formally, trying to put on the best clothes we have, as we don’t have a warm wooly bunad. The event started the Danish parliament house in Copenhagen, where thousands of Norwegians had gathered in their pretty dresses (sorry for the people who have to endure the summer heat in their bunad). I couldn’t believe the number of Norwegians in Denmark–there are so many! We listened to speeches from the two parliament representatives (one was from the Norwegian parliament – stolttinget, and another one was from the danish parliament – folketinget). The event proceeded with a parade all the way to den sjømanskirken (the sea men’s church – a Norwegian church) in Christiania. Stories spread that there are this kind of church all over the world, which will be generously ready to help Norwegians who need extra money during travelling (what a lucky bastard! :D).
Of course, parading means blocking the road. And as some Danes had no idea that it was a Norwegian constitution parade, faces on bikes painted murmurs like “What the hell! What do these norwegians do here on my cycle lane? Oh well, i see. Today is their independence day. Meh…we should have not give up Norway to the Swedes. The oil supposed to be ours. 😀 —in a joking way”
When we arrived at the church, long lines already filled up the pølse og lompe booths, while my husband was crazy about getting rømmegrød (the sour cream porridge). I could also see some families with their halfa kids (the men were Norwegians and the women were Asians, and their kids are a combination of these two genes—typical).
As many Norwegians say, that having the 17th of may abroad is koseligt (nice).
Take a look of our pictures during the 17th of May in Copenhagen. Oh did I mention that this celebration also commemorate the 200 years since the first 17th of may, and the year when the three viking brothers had stopped fighting against each other?