Wednesday, May 29, 2013

National Day

A typical Syttende Mai scene: Traditional dress and passed out highschooler

So it's probably a little late for a 17th of May post, but it was a good day and better late than never. The Norwegians go all out on their National Day, which celebrates not their independence, but the adoption of their Constitution in 1814. At the time they had just been given from Denmark to Sweden as collateral payment after the Napoleonic War and wouldn't be independent from Sweden until 1905. Anyways, 17th of May is a spectacle, with the vast majority of the adult population dressed in the traditional bunad, a very folksy and beautiful outfit that can represent different regions of the country. I spent the day very typically, watching thousands of children march through Oslo in the barnatog, or children's parade, and eating ice cream with friends along the waterfront.

Watching the parade and admiring the bunads

So many well-dressed folks excited about a parade

The most interesting part of the day is definitely people watching. Most of Oslo was out in the streets starting at 10am, and the festivities quickly progress from family friendly fun to drinking on balconies and grilling in the parks. All while still wearing a bunad (it's like 1800s farmers gone wild). And this festive environment leads to something strange, the extroverted Norwegian. Everyone is smiling and talking to strangers and skoling (raising their glasses in a toast), which is quite the departure from the normally calm and introverted setting you might find on an average Oslo evening.

The holiday also marks the end of a strange tradition known as "Russ," which is a several week party time for graduating high school seniors. They don red or blue overalls, rent pimped out buses, and drink themselves silly while competing for small tokens by doing various ridiculous tasks. Oh, and they can't wash the overalls, which by the 17th are covered in beer, pizza, dirt, and who knows what else. See picture at top of page for example of typical russ student sleeping it off while the national TV station interviews sweet lady about the 200 year anniversary of women's suffrage in Norway. Have I mentioned that I love this country?

Swedish Ship Gothenburg

With events starting early, things wrapped up pretty early as well, though watching couples and groups of friends walking to more parties down my street, I could see that some people were still going long after my more responsible friends had gone home. Next year is the 200th anniversary of the Constitution, so I'm hoping for big things for 2014!


Blog posts in the work: Trips above the Arctic Circle; A Weekend in Amsterdam. 

No comments:

Post a Comment