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Syttende mai, or the seventeenth of May, is the Norwegian national holiday. It is Norway’s Constitution Day, the day that Norway’s Constitution was signed into law.
The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May 1814. However, during this time, Norway was in a union still with Sweden, and the King was reluctant to allow celebrations during this time. For several years during the 1820’s, it was even totally banned by the King. After the Battle of the Square in 1829, however, the King removed the prohibitions to ease tensions.
In 1864, the day became more established as a national holiday with the creation of the children’s parade. At first, only boys were allowed in the parade, but in 1899 girls began to be allowed as well. The parades take the children through the community, often making stops at homes of senior citizens and war memorials. The parade in Oslo features over 100 schools, and the royal family greets the parade goers from the balcony of the royal palace. Many people will wear bunad during this day, which are traditional cloths of Norway.
The 17th of May is a very inclusive holiday, and everyone becomes a Norwegian on that day. No matter where you are from, whether or not you live in Norway, you are encouraged to grab a Norwegian flag and fly it proudly.