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Celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day

Norwegian flag a blue cross with a white border on a red background

Today, May 17th is Norwegian Constitution Day. It’s a day celebrated not just in Norway but in many countries across the world where there are links with Norway.

Norway is quite rightly proud of its independence for which at times in its history it has paid a high price. In the Second World War the country was invaded by Nazi Germany and a puppet government was installed. Norwegian resistance, however, was fierce. Some of that struggle is covered in the film ‘The Kings Choice’. If you haven’t seen the film, seek it out, it is well worth watching.

In Orkney, too, islanders join with our Norwegian friends with a day and evening packed with events.

10.30  Short Remembrance Ceremony beside Norwegian W W 2 gravestones at St Olaf’s Cemetery. There is a bus from beside Kirkwall Hotel at 10.00 for those needing transport & back afterwards. 

12.00 Tog or Parade from Kirkwall Pierhead to Kirk Green, led by Kirkwall City Pipe Band, flag bearers & Norwegian Visitors, ONFA (Orkney Norway Friendship Association) Members & Friends & school children.

The Norwegian National Anthem is played.

adults and children holding Norwegian and the Scottish flag line up outside the doors to St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall Orkney
Norwegian Constitution Day celebrated in Orkney May 17 2022

This is followed by some short speeches including a welcome by OIC Convener Councillor Graham Bevan. Norwegian Guests of Honour Erik Bugge and Eva Charlotte Nilsen from Vesteralen (group of islands NW Norway) will then make a reply speech.

12.45 to 13.30. Concert in St Magnus Cathedral by Stromness Academy Pupils, with a collection at the door.

The dinner in the Evening at 7.00 pm is extremely popular and is sold out.

The Orkney Norway Friendship Association has been hosting these events for many years now. OIC has a twinning agreement with 1. Hordaland (1983) and 2.  reaffirmed by Vestland County Council (2022).

The Norwegian constitution was passed unanimously by the Eidsvoll Assembly on 16 May 1814 and signed the next day.

Students and others soon began celebrating the milestone. However, since Norway was in a union with Sweden at the time, King Karl Johan of Sweden and Norway banned the festivities from 1820 until 1829.

The first public speech to mark the day was delivered in 1833 by Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland. Since then, the 17th of May has been celebrated as Norway’s national day.

In 1870, the celebrations became more official when the first children’s parade was held in Christiania (later renamed Oslo). Author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who also wrote the national anthem, “Ja, vi elsker dette landet”, was the driving force behind the parade.

All over Norway, children’s parades are a key part of the celebrations, with marching bands, and an abundance of flags.

The longest parade is in Oslo, where about 100,000 people pack the city centre. The parade includes some 100 schools and passes the Royal Palace, where the royal family waves to the crowds from the balcony. The parade is broadcast on national television.

Norway’s National Day

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