Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The 17th of May - Norway's National Day

May 17th is Norway’s Constitution Day and is celebrated with children’s parades and festivities. These colorful processions of children with their banners, flags and bands take center stage on this day of celebration.

After being part of the Danish autocracy for 400 years, Norway got its own constitution in 1814 and joined into a loose union with Sweden that lasted until 1905.

A limited and hereditary monarchy was introduced, whereby the king would exercise his authority through a government, while Parliament (Storting) would allocate monies and make laws. The Norwegian constitution was the most modern in Europe at the time.

Norway's Constitution, which declared the country to be an independent nation, was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814, and despite full independence having had to wait until 1905, this date remains Norway's official National Day.

The day is celebrated with as much enthusiasm in Norwegian villages as in the capital city of Oslo, where tens of thousands line Karl Johans Gate, Oslo’s main thoroughfare, every year to watch the parade.

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