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The 17th of May – A special Day to our Norwegian Fellows

Anine and Aksel are both from Norway and participants on the FK exchange program between Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust and SAIH in Norway. Today, the 17th of May, is quite a special and big day for these guys. We asked them what it was that was so special about this day.

The 17th of May is the day when all Norwegians take to the streets to celebrate Norway’s national day. Every nation has a national day, but not many of them are so enthusiastically and uniquely celebrated as the 17th of May in Norway. On this day, Norwegians are out on the streets celebrating from early morning to late night, and I am sure that if you ask a Norwegian which day of the year is their favourite, they will most likely reply the 17th of May. The central elements of the 17th of May are the big children’s parades and the abundance of Norwegian flags. Buses, buildings, even babies’ pushchairs are decorated with the Norwegian flag, and people are dressed in their national costumes called “Bunad”.

Graduating high school students wear unicoloured uniforms and celebrate the end of the school year. The sound of loud music and happy people is heard from every corner.

The biggest part of the event on this day is dedicated to the children. All over the country, singing children march in parades, waving Norwegian flags and carrying school banners. The biggest parade takes place in the capital city, Oslo, and includes some 60 000 children from over 120 schools as well as marching bands. The parade passes the Royal Palace where the royal family members wave back from the balcony.

Now you probably wonder, what are the historical and social backgrounds of all these 17th of May traditions?


The 17th of May was established as a National Day in 1814 as the day the Constitution of Norway was signed in Eidsvoll – and Norwegians are proud to know that the Norwegian constitution is the second oldest still in use. The constitution declares Norway as an independent nation, and despite the fact that independence was not fully achieved until 1905, this date remains Norway’s national day, and is a national holiday.

This year will be a different 17th of May for Anine and Aksel, as they live in Zimbabwe this year. But they are definitely going to celebrate it. Anine is celebrating the day with Norwegian friends in Harare, while Aksel is going to Malawi and celebrate at the Norwegian embassy there.

Hipp, hipp, hurra! Gratulerer med dagen! Happy 17th of May!

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Tafadzwa Macheka

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