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Hip, hip, hurray, it’s Norway’s day!

BY SUSANNA LINDBÄCK

Norweigians celebrate Constitution Day.

All around the world, people celebrate this day including in Perth. It’s done in the true Norwegian spirit, following the Norwegian traditions, but of course in a much smaller scale.

Here in Perth, Norwegians, friends and families meet in Stirling Garden, eat hot dogs, waffles, play, sing, meet and greet. After a couple of hours doing that, they all gather up, get their parade faces on and stroll around the city, singing songs and cheering. Back in Stirling Garden, there are speeches and a sing-along of the Norwegian national anthem. The party continues at Lucky Shag down by the Bell tower, and ends when the last person standing is heading back home.

It may seem like a small celebration for a national day, but don’t fear my friends, here is how it’s really done: In Norway the celebration has grown to be one of the biggest celebrations in the world.

It’s a well-known spectacular day with extensive traditions. As well as being a very fun day, the celebration is a tradition that plays an important role in the cohesion and the development of Norwegian society.

The way the day is celebrated is not only unique, but also future-oriented. In many countries the national day could pass as any other day. No celebrations and no special attention. And in some countries maybe just a small gathering is made with the closest friends and family, in other words nothing major. Other countries highlight the nations’ strengths through a military parade.

VIDEO: Norwegians enjoy the festivities in Perth.

Hot dogs, ice-cream and songs for kids

In Norway they do the same, but in contrast to the beefy, strict and robust military stuff, they show the same strength through jubilant children. On this day, Norway has chosen to show their pride and hope for the future through the kids.

Every year thousands of parades are held throughout the country. Every city has its own parade, and on this day – at approximately the same time – all of Norway’s children are doing the same thing: parading; singing; and cheering.

With the Norwegian flag in their hands, proudly swaying above their heads, they parade for the independents. Every school also has its own orchestra. Months ahead, they learn, and rehearse the national anthem and all the other Norwegian “must-play” songs.

In all the major cities, it’s not unusual that the children’s parade has to be divided into several parades.

The biggest parade runs in Oslo, the capital, where tens of thousands of children march for hours. The highlight for many is when their own class marches past the castle, where the Norwegian royal family is waving from the balcony.

It’s also common to arrange games of different variations, from egg-running to a bag of hoops.

Buying balloons and eating loads of hot dogs and ice-cream are also mandatory.

Celebrating in style

A lot of people also wear the national costume, called “bunad”. It’s originally a tradition that started at the end of the 19th century, where a tailor wanted to design gowns for folk dancers.

Today, they’re all different, and the bunad’s pattern and colour show which part of the country one is from.

Each bunad is made of 100 per cent wool and it’s always tailor-made and customised.

There are also a lot of silver accessories, which is different from bunad to bunad, and takes several years and a lot of money to collect. The average costume costs from 30,000 kroner and up, roughly speaking $5,000 at the minimum.

Achieving independence

It’s a full day packet in smiles, food, peoples, greetings and hurrays. Simply put, it is a big, beautiful chaos.

It’s Norway’s birthday. It’s the day of joy and companionship. The day where nothing else matters; shops, schools, museums and buildings are closed.

Everybody is out celebrating independence, the birth of freedom.

They celebrate what happened in Norway 197 years ago, namely in 1814.

Since 1380, Norway had been in union with Denmark.

At Eidsvoll on 17 May, 434 years later, something changed the country.  They signed the constitution, an establishment that is still in force. It wasn’t complete freedom, but they were given their own parliament

On the same day Christian Fredrik was elected king of Norway. Unfortunately, he resigned only a few months later, and the throne was handed over to the Swedish king, Karl Johan. And for the next hundred years, Norway was once again forced to live under someone else’s glove of power.

But in 1905 they finally got their own and full independence.

On 7 June, they obtained the authority to rule the country themselves. The joy among the Norwegian was indescribable.

There is no doubt that this particular celebration is one of the biggest and most admired in the world. And therefore also one of the most inclusive festivities in the world, where all people regardless of background and origins, are welcome to join in on the fun.

For those who have never seen this celebration before, it may seem very strange.

But one thing is for sure: it’s a “see worthy” celebration.

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