Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bunadmania: 200 years of Constitutional Fun

Enthusiastic Norwegians, a few in full suits, celebrating May 17 by paddling through Oslo's inner waterways. 
One month ago today Norway celebrated the 200 year anniversary of creating its very own constitution. This is an especially significant and unique holiday because it is not Norwegian independence day, that came nearly 100 years later, but rather the day when Norway took matters into its own hands and created its constitution after being handed over to Sweden from Denmark following the Napoleonic wars. Norwegians are extremely proud, rightly so, of their constitution and the democratic ideals it put into writing. And so, May 17 is not just a celebration of one day in history, but rather a celebration of what it means to be Norwegian.

I was lucky to have a few visitors from the USA here for a visit. These crazy folks planned their vacations for the sole purpose of seeing the spectacle that is May 17.  They were not disappointed. With the holiday falling on a Saturday, the festivities began on Friday night and kept going for the whole weekend. The main event was the children's parade on Saturday, preceded of course by a champagne breakfast at 9am (brunch is for the weak). With corks popped well before noon, the spirits around town are quite high around 1pm or 2pm. And of course these high spirits are enhanced by the fancy traditional dress, the bunad, that is donned by all. These spirits (and comfort level of the bunads) fade by about mid-afternoon, but the true pros get a mid-afternoon nap in, and then keep going for the rest of the evening. We tried this strategy and spent the evening watching the events downtown from a lively rooftop.

The following day we recovered by taking a walk in the woods and an evening spent in relaxing. The weekend went by too fast, and on Monday my friends were back to the USA. But with some of my favorite Americans here in Oslo mixing with some of my favorite Norwegians, it was a truly memorable way to celebrate a historical day for Norway.

Participating in Norwegian tradition - flag waving and sun worshiping. 

Soon to be graduating high school "russ" students. 

Norwegians in full bunads, enjoying the sunshine and a traditional ice cream. 

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