Hurra for Syttende Mai! Soon communities across North America and Norway will be waving their Norwegian flags, hosting parades and gathering in fellowship to commemorate Norway’s Constitution Day.
In honor of this special day, we’ve compiled 10 facts about the signing of the Norwegian Constitution at the National Assembly in Eidsvoll in 1814 as well as some details about how the day is celebrated today.
4. The Constitution that was signed and adopted is the second oldest written Constitution in the world still in existence today.
5. For the past 111 years the Norwegian Royal Family has greeted the schoolchildren of Oslo from the palace balcony. The only exceptions have been during WWII and the death of Queen Maud’s father, King Edward VII, in 1910.
6. The Constitution received a linguistic revision in 1903. While the overall language of the Constitution has essentially remained unaltered, the language from 1903 is still used when proposed changes are made.
7. Graduating high school students participate in Syttende Mai parades dressed in russedress, which are red overalls adorned with sayings and phrases from their friends.
8. The document was inspired by the United States and French Constitutions.
9. Fredrik Meltzer, a member of the constitutional assembly, designed the Norwegian flag in 1821. It incorporated red, white and blue from countries that Meltzer thought best symbolized liberty: the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
10. The first public 17th of May speech was given in Christiana (now Oslo) in 1833 by poet Henrik Wergeland.
Looking for more about Syttende Mai and the signing of the Constitution at Eidsvoll? Check out our May 2014 issue of Viking Magazine.