Søttende mai


The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent nation. The celebration of this day began spontaneously among students and others from early on. However, Norway was at that time under Swedish rule (following the Convention of Moss in August 1814) and for some years the King of Sweden was reluctant to allow the celebrations. For a couple of years in the 1820s, king Carl Johan actually forbade it, as he thought the celebrations a kind of protest and disregard—even revolt—against Swedish sovereignty. The king’s attitude changed slightly after the Battle of the Square in 1829, an incident which resulted in such a commotion that the King had to allow it. It was, however, not until 1833, that anyone ventured to hold a public address on behalf of the day. That year, official celebration was initiated by the monument of the late politician Christian Krogh, known to have stopped the King from gaining too much personal power. The address was held by Henrik Wergeland.

May 17th is also the day students in their last year of upper secondary school celebrate the end of 13 years of school, even though many still have to pass final exams. They call themselves "russ" and illustrate their standing through colourful overalls depending on their line of study. High spirits are the norm and the festivities usually last day and night. Many transport themselves around town in self-decorated buses and vans with slogans and booming music.


2 thoughts on “Søttende mai

  1. Now look at this! Thank you, Laird! It takes an Englishman to get Norwegian history and traditions out to the people, huh? You mention Henrik Wergeland, the writer. He was the most important person when it comes to the the cildren\’s parades and the flags. For example he wrote the song "Vi ere en nation, ve med, vi smaa, en alen lange" ("We are a nation, we, too, we small, two feet tall") 😉 By the way, Henrik Wergeland\’s father Nicolai was one of the central men who were gathered in Eidsvoll during the spring in 1814. Finally let me congratulate you with the Premier League Championship! You\’re good! No doubt about that!

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