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This week’s guest post comes from Lew at Planet Lew! An Australian currently living abroad in Norway, this year Lew celebrated her first “syttende mai” with thousands of other patriotic Norwegians out to celebrate their National Day!  Lew blogs about her love of travel, food and music, and you can follow her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

A lot of countries like to bring out their flags to celebrate their national day. Norway seems to bring out every Norwegian waving flags, blowing whistles and playing music around the country. In fact, if you happen to be inside on the day you can watch the national TV station, NRK, and see all the parades, not just in the country, but around the world.

For a little country of just over 5 million, the Norwegians are very proud of their national day. It’s locally known as “syttende mai”, which directly translates into 17th May.

Many outsiders think it’s a type of Independence Day, but it’s actually their Constitution Day. On the 17th May 1814, the Constitution of Norway was signed as an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden.

In Oslo, the day typically starts with friends over for a champagne brunch. You’ll find Norwegian foods like smoked salmon, Jarlsberg cheese, brown cheese (a local cheese thats part cow, part sheep milk and little bit caramelly), eggs and plenty of sliced meats. Roast beef is a popular choice on the 17th May.


Champagne Brunch!

Once suitably full, it’s time to watch the parade. Each major town or city hosts a parade, but Oslo, being the capital city, hosts the largest. Local organisations, schools and the military all march, waving flags and play music throughout the city center.

The streets are lined with spectators waving Norwegian flags and many are wearing the traditional costume, known as a bunad. Like a tartan kilt, a bunads design is regional. The bunads are usually quite an investment. Not only are they handmade with wool and silk, they are adorned with silver jewelery and are designed to last a lifetime.


Bunads are worn to celebrate Norway’s National Day

Another fascinating part of the day is watching all the graduating high school students, known as Russ. The Russ stand out in their red, blue or black overalls. They have been partying for around three weeks prior to this day and some of them look like they have. Their overalls are all personalised and signed by class mates (and probably some strangers). Most of the Russ join the parade at the end. In Oslo, they end up at the Royal Palace, which is an impressive sight on the day.

Others seem to continue the party on buses and in the streets. DJ’s pump out music from roof tops and plenty of drinks start flowing.

The day this year started out with a bit of a drizzle, but the clouds cleared and I think the whole population of Oslo came outside. The cafes and bars were spilling into the streets with friends enjoying a celebratory drink on their national day!


Street Parade in Oslo!


Street Parade in Oslo!


So yummy!

 Have you helped celebrate a National Day in another country?

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