Norwegian Independence Day

Quick Facts

AKA NameNorwegian Constitution Day, Syttende mai, Syttande mai, Søttende mai
Hashtags#NorwegianIndependenceDay, #NationalDayofNorway
2020 DateMay 17, 2020
2021 DateMay 17, 2021
Norwegian Independence Day

Norwegian Independence Day History

Norwegian Independence Day celebrates the day that the Norway constitution was signed in 1814. The celebration is uncommonly non-militaristic. People wearing the traditional Norwegian costume, the bunad, and children parading with flags are a prominent feature of the day.

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 senior in Norway. During a period of around 6 weeks before May 17, these students get to behave in a mischievous way and it's traditionally more tolerated by people.

Norwegian Independence Day Top Events and Things to Do

  • Attend the Seattle 17th of May Festival (or 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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