A festival and cheer for independence


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Europe » Norway » Eastern Norway » Oslo
May 17th 2011
Published: May 17th 2011
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Location: Norway
Day: May 17th
Reason to celebrate: Independence

The only day in the year when it is acceptable to make noise in public without it being a federal offence.
They hope for great weather, check, they hope for a country wide cheer, check, cheap ice cream for everyone! Not a chance!

Even though Norway has been an independent country for nearly 200 years they still feel that dressing up formally and showing national pride is very important. National days in most countries vary the way they celebrate and from my experience how it’s done here in Norway and especially in Oslo is unique.

In the past, when areas of land were divided by mountain passes and rivers, families would make their own formal wear and pass it down to younger generations. This formal wear was called "bunad", or traditional dress for females and formal attire for males, both young and old. These bunads are still worn today by and if there is none in the family they might be purchased. Specific designs, embroidering, jewellery, cuts and patterns depict who you’re related to and where the family tree stems from. Nowadays people wear the traditional dress only for larger more important events, such as the national day, weddings, and confirmations.

Kristy and I arrived to Oslo in my uncle's boat and walked around town to witness the streets filled with people of all ages celebrating this national day of excitement!

High school grad students are called "russ" and during the month of May they wear only one pair of pants with a different colour depending on the school they attend, most are red, some blue. They have a tradition to make a type of business cards for themselves called "russe kort" and share them with young children who for some reason go stir crazy and collect them. To understand this better, imagine a group of teenage grad students sleeping or passed out in parks due to hard partying the night before getting surrounded by young children wanting cards...

In the center of town hundreds of schools parade around the city making their way up to the palace where the King, Queen and other royal family members stand waving out at the crowds. This is where you will get the best view of the happenings that go on for several hours. In this parade you will see mostly young school students from the greater Oslo area marching along, either waving flags, or playing in a marching band.

Three cheers to a small independent nation, full of strong minded Norwegians upholding their long lived traditions with spirit and joy. This is truly a national holiday worth experiencing



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18th May 2011

Another great blog!
I love the traditional clothing. I would love to come to Norway to see one of the festivals! This looks like a great time.

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