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Syttende Mai

The Norwegian Constitution Day is celebrated on 17th May and is also the National Day of Norway. The Norwegians refer to the day as syttende mai meaning Seventeenth May, Grunnlovsdagen, which means The Constitution Day and Nasjonaldagen that means The National Day.

Norwegian Constitution Day Celebrations
The Norwegian Constitution Day is celebrated in different ways in various parts of the country. In Oslo children from across the schools gather for parading past the Royal Palace. At the Royal Palace greetings and waves are exchanged between the Royal Family and the children.

In Asker, a municipality outside Oslo, children gather outside Skaugum Estate where the heir to the Norwegian throne resides. The celebrations happen at the morning. In Bergen there are unique types of parades such as comic troupes, children's parades, parades by local groups and the buekorps.

The parades by school children at Trondheim take place at the morning. The afternoon is reserved for Borgertoget or the Citizens Parade. This parade is attended by firefighters, students associations and sports teams among others.

In addition to the parades by the children and students from the Russ, people of various ages fill the streets in festive clothing and vendors sell ice cream and hot dogs. Kebabs have been a late addition to the Constitution Day celebrations in Norway.

The unique aspect of Norwegian Constitution Day celebrations is its inclusiveness in spite of being a national event. Thus foreigners who are present at Norway on this day are also made part of the festivities by way of invitations.

The Royal Guard also plays an important part in the Constitution Day celebrations by performing on the main street in Oslo. At the parade the members of the Guard display their musical prowess and various drills. The marching band of the Guards also combines with the children's parade in central Oslo. Over the years the flawless drills and black uniforms of the Royal Guard have become extremely popular. In Bergen the Forsvarets Musikkorps Vestlandet takes a prominent part in the proceedings.

Norwegian Constitution Day History
The Constitution of Norway was signed on 17th May 1814 at Eidsvoll and as per the constitution Norway was declared to be an independent nation. On that day the historic moment was celebrated in a spontaneous manner by the students and everyone else.

Norway was however, under Swedish rule and this meant for a couple of years that the King of Sweden was unwilling to allow celebrations. In the 1820s the then king Karl Johan actually did not permit the celebrations. He felt that the celebrations were disregardful of Swedish authority and treated them as marks of protest and revolt.

After the Battle of Square in 1829 there was a lot of commotion and the King was forced to permit the celebrations. However, the first public address to celebrate the day took place in 1833. The monument of deceased politician Christian Krogh played an important role in starting the celebrations. Incidentally he was responsible for stopping the then King from assuming too much power.

The first address was delivered by Henrik Wergeland, who was supposed to have been a Swedish spy appointed by the King himself. The day became more established after 1864. The first Children's Promenade was organized in Christiania but the parade consisted only of boys.

Challenges before Norway
Over the years Norway has faced some crucial problems in spite of its overall progress. The immigration and consequent integration of ethnic minorities to the mainstream of Norway is one of the most important ones in this regard.

Norway also has an extensive system of social safety but with an increasingly ageing population this is becoming a worrisome situation. Coping with consistent economic competitiveness has been a major issue as well.