Norwegian Independence Day

Quick Facts

AKA NameNorwegian Constitution Day, Syttende mai, Syttande mai, Søttende mai
HashtagsCompiled on#NorwegianIndependenceDay, #NationalDayofNorway
Related Hashtags#Norway, #17mai, #Norwegian
2024 DateMay 17, 2024
2025 DateMay 17, 2025

Norwegian Independence Day

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Norwegian Independence Day History

Norwegian Independence Day, also popularly known as Constitution Day or National Day, commemorates the historic signing of the Norwegian constitution at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814, a crucial step toward Norway achieving full independence from Sweden in 1905.

The Norwegian Constitution, which established Norway as a free state, was the most liberal and democratic constitution in the world at that time. It was heavily influenced by the American Constitution and the French Revolution, signaling a shift towards democratic ideals in Europe. Norwegian Independence Day hence exemplifies not just national pride, but also the underlying values of democracy and freedom.

The day is notably marked with children's parades, lively family games, traditional outfits called 'bunads,' speeches, and an abundance of flags. Unlike many countries, military parades are rare on this day; rather the focus is on peaceful celebrations and unity. The hustle and bustle of the day end with people gathering to enjoy traditional Norwegian foods and ice cream. The grandeur and spirit of this occasion in Norway are unparalleled, and the spectacle it offers makes it a remarkable celebration to witness. Norwegian Independence Day occurs every spring, falling on the 17th of May.

Norwegian Independence Day facts

  • Because of a forced union with Sweden that caused changes to the constitution a month after it was signed, the day of celebration became the 4th of November for a long time. Finally, in 1905, Norway would separate from the union and the 17th of May became the national day of celebration once again.
  • For the first twenty years after their introduction, only boys could participate in the iconic children's parades held on this date.
  • Norway doesn't have an official national anthem. Different songs have been used throughout the years with one becoming more popular than the other. Today, the de facto national anthem is Ja, vi elsker dette landet. Before it, it was Sønner av Norge.
  • Famous people with Norwegian ancestry include Jennifer Connelly, Lauren Cohan, Josh Duhamel, Chris Pratt, Aksel Hennie and Jimmy Fallon.
  • This day marks the end of russ-ing. Russ is a high school in Norway. During a period of about 6 6 weeks before May 17, students get to behave in a mischievous way. During this time this behavior is traditionally more tolerated by people.
  • Norway's traditional costume, the bunad, is a staple of the celebrations. There's over 400 regional variations of this traditionally rural costume.

Top things to do for Norwegian Independence Day

  • Attend the Seattle May 17th Festival (Syttende Mai). As of 2018, there's a parade, music and dancing, a luncheon, events for kids and free admission to the Nordic Heritage Museum.
  • Watch a Norwegian film. The Norwegian Film Institute lists recent Norwegian award-winning films here.
  • Go skiing. Norwegian Sondre Norheim is known as the father of modern skiing. Ski is a Norwegian word related to Old Norse skíth ("billet, snowshoe").

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