The 17th of May might seem like a typical day to you, but NOT in Norway! Norway has a unique celebration of their National Day.
Coming from the States, where Independence Day is usually celebrated with a BBQ, beers, fireworks, and other summertime activities, I was very surprised by the complexity of the celebration here in Oslo.
What to expect on the 17th of May:
The day begins with a champagne breakfast. YES, you read that correctly. Champagne for all… at 8 A.M. Don’t worry, it is also filled with lots of typical Norwegian breakfast items as well. It is often a potluck style breakfast with breads, scrambled eggs, salmon, and more! Following breakfast, friends and family usually gather along the streets and near the castle for the march. Don’t forget to bring your Norwegian flags!
Much of the celebration is centered around and dedicated for the children. Children typically gather with bands and march together waving the Norwegian flag. Along with the little ones, you also have the graduating high school students, or “Russ.” Russ students can be recognized by their hats and uniforms (usually distinguished by red, blue, or black). Students typically start the “Russ” celebration around May 1st and the final celebration is on May 17th. The night prior to the 17th is filled with lots of final celebrations. I’d just like to point out that all this celebrating is done PRIOR to final high school exams. I’d say their exhaustion from not attending the parade is not from staying up late to study HA HA HA.
What to wear on the 17th of May:
Well, if you are Norwegian you may have a Bunad which is Norway’s traditional costume. A bunad is not only worn on the 17th of May, but can be worn to various celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, and other formal occasions. As you wander around on the National Day, you will notice that there are hundreds of different ones! The different styles, colors, and patterns of the bunad indicate where the owner’s ancestry lies. How Neat! Some friends suggested I have a bunad made. After finding out it can cost between $3,000 and $10,000 I quickly changed my mind (: Many receive a bunad that is passed down within the family or receive it as a gift when they go through confirmation. I have many friends who are not originally from Norway, but who have invested in a bunad. Mostly because they plan to continue living in Norway. But for those who are not from Norway, like myself, it is very common to dress in the colors of the flag. RED WHITE AND BLUE!
The breakfast and parade are usually followed with more partying!
Bring on more prosecco, hot dogs, and ice cream!