The National Day of the Kingdom of Norway is celebrated on May 17, commemorating the birth of our Constitution in 1814. It states the fundamental principles and values – equality, tolerance and human rights – upon which the Norwegian society is built. It is the second oldest constitution in the world still in continuous force.
On May 17, the whole country is draped in the colors of our flag: red, white and blue, and many wear their national costume, “bunad”. A noteworthy aspect of Norway’s national day is that the parades are made up of school children behind a local brass band. All over Norway, in towns and villages, children parade with an abundance of flags. This tradition is more than 140-years old and was initiated by writer Henrik Wergeland and Nobel Prize laureate Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. The latter also wrote the lyrics of our national anthem. The longest parade is in Oslo and passes by the Royal Palace, where the Royal Family greets the people from the main balcony.
The Constitution Day is a festive day for everyone, but perhaps most of all for the youth and children. Reflecting principles such as a strong civil participation, cultural diversity and social inclusion, the day is an important reminder of the true privilege of living in a free country.