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Celebrating Constitution Day in Norway

Whether you're sailing through remote Norwegian fjords or hanging out in a pub in Oslo, you can always join the party on May 17th, Norway's Constitution Day.

Whether you're sailing through remote Norwegian fjords or hanging out in a pub in Oslo, you can always join the party on May 17th, Norway's Constitution Day. 

The independence day of the country, simply referred to as syttende mai (meaning May 17th) or Nasjonaldagen (the national day), is celebrated with colorful processions, flags and children's parades throughout the land, though the biggest festivities occur in none other than the capital.

Oslo

Oslo erupts with patriotic pride, as tens of thousands line Karl Johans gate, Oslo's main thoroughfare, every year to watch the parade. The children's four-hour-long parade here is the longest in the nation, including more than 100 schools and marching bands. The route begins at Festningsplassen and Youngstorget, traces Karl Johans gate from Stortorvet to the Royal Palace, passes the Parliament along the way, and ends in front the City Hall. At the Royal Palace Square, you can catch a glimpse at the Royal Family waving from the palace balcony. 

Bergen

If you're in Bergen during this spring festivity, choose from a number of concerts and activities - a crowd favorite is the harbor rowing race in Vågen, where the festivities end with an explosive firework display. Want to be of the heart of the action? The main procession departs from Torgallmenningen at 10:30 a.m. and ends at Festplassen. 

Wherever you are in Norway, chances are you'll come across beautiful bunads or national costumes, which is associated with the heritage of their ancestors.

History behind the holiday

Norway was part of the Danish autocracy for 400 years, but it wasn't until May 17, 1814 that the country got its own constitution, marking its independence as a country. The nation joined into a loose union with Sweden that lasted almost 100 years, and the official split introduced full independence to Norway. 

A limited and hereditary monarchy was implemented, in which the king exercised his authority through a government while Parliament made laws. At the time, the Norwegian constitution was the most modern in Europe. 

So, while voyagers are enjoying their cruise vacations, they could don a national costume, grab a beer, indulge in some ice cream and sing the national song. Its national anthem boldly announces: Ja, vi elsker dette landet, meaning "Yes we love this land!"

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