…just a snapshot I took of two children happily at play while waiting for the parade last 17 May. I don’t know them actually, but I thought they were a perfect illustration of what 17 May is all about here in Norway.
The 27th of May has always been associated with two things here—children and bunads. This is the time of year that Norwegians (well… the women mostly) go out in their colourful national costumes, the bunad, and watch the parades before going to visit friends and/or relatives. It is actually the Norwegian National Day—the day the Norwegian constitution was established in 1816 after the country became independent of Denmark.
But unlike in most countries where national days are celebrated with fireworks and military parades, here in Norway it is the children who take centre-stage. Indeed, the days’ highlight is the so-called barnetoget, or children’s parade, where almost all the children from different schools participate. Parents actually take pains to wake up early just to bring their children to the parade assembly point, and then themselves patiently stand in line at the town centre, waiting for the children to come by and wave their flags with a cheerful “Hurrah!” (Sorry, no pictures of the children’s parade this year—didn’t manage to wake up early enough—perhaps next year…)
At first this had seemed strange to me, having come from a country where independence day is celebrated mainly by a military parade at the capital…but come to think of it, it makes sense. A nation’s future is all dependent on its children. National days should thus be dedicated to them, before anything else.