Hipp, hipp, hurra for the 17th of May! Today is the day Norwegians, big and small, take to the streets to celebrate their Constitution Day.
The mini Vikings are very excited to celebrate Norway’s national day in Mr. Viking’s hometown of Drammen this year. As a bicultural family - exposing the children to our cultural celebrations is a priority. Celebrating this day is just plain fun – but extra special when we are actually in Norway. Dorothy says it best, “There’s no place like home!”
So how do Norwegian’s celebrate their big day? Having a bird’s eye view, I find the holiday festive, traditional, chockfull of nostalgia and good food!
Many don traditional costumes – called bunad. These are often hand embroidered, sometimes heirlooms that are passed down through generations. Norwegians are proud to wear bunads that correspond to traditional dress from their home county.
Their finest suit or summer dress, in lieu of a bunad – will also do! Patriotically beribboned lapels abound on this day!
Waving school banners and flags, school children march in parades with their classes.
The graduating high school classes customize vans or motor coaches – turning them into their own personal party-mobiles / parade floats. Taking part in 17th of May parades is a major event in term-long graduation festivities.
Children have been traditionally promised as many hotdogs and ice creams as they want. What a great tradition!
While adults partake in hotdog and ice cream festivities too, cured meats – or spekemat – are the stars of a cold, sit down lunch with family. Here, a patriotic table setting awaits hungry celebretants!
The Italians and Spanish aren’t the only ones with amazing cured meats. Pictured below, Norway’s answer to prosciutto and lomo. Cured ham (spekeskinke), lamb (fenelår) and delicious lamb sausage are all present on my mother-in-law’s fantastic 17th of May lunch buffet!
Scrambled eggs with chives, served cold, are a popular accompaniment to cured meats and smoked salmon. The texture and chives perfectly offset the salty cold cuts! Below: spekeskinke (cured ham) on flatbread with scrambled eggs and chives.
A selection from the 17th of May buffet. Cured ham, cured leg of lamb, lamb sausage – with scrambled eggs and sour cream to garnish flat bread sandwiches. The ever present hotdog – served in a potato-pancake type bread called lompe, makes an appearance as well.
The 17th of May is Norway’s birthday – and the usually reserved population greets friends and strangers alike with the phrase “Gratulerer med dagen!” – which means happy birthday in Norwegian. If you are in Norway today – or happen to be with a Norwegian – be sure to give him a hipp, hipp, hurra – and wish Norway a happy birthday!