Norwegian national day celebration..in Scotland

The 17th of May is the Norwegian national day. It’s the date where we got our own constitution, in 1814, when we finally became free of Denmark, after being part of them for almost 400 years. Of course, we were then in a union with Sweden until 1905, but at least we were more free than we used to be.  We celebrate it every year, with children in primary and high school going in parades and singing national songs. Everyone dresses up, many in bunad, the national costume, and many watches the parade of the children. Afterwards there are usually games for children in most schools, and people generally eat good food, spend time with friends and family and celebrate. Of course, not everyone cares that much, or bother to join every year, particularly if you don’t have children or are in the stage between being a child and having children, but most people celebrates in some way.

Apparently there is a relatively big community of Norwegians in Scotland, or at least there were some sort of celebration in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The largest one was in Edinburgh, where I went and met up with two other Norwegian friends, one who studies in Newcastle and one in Surrey. It was the first time I saw either of them in a while, so it was really nice to meet up again, and to actually speak Norwegian!

Typical of Scotland it was pretty awful weather however, with heavy and constant rain, as well as maybe 7-8 °C, which is not a very nice combination. We still went to the parade though, and so did quite a few other people, surprisingly many wearing their bunad. Made me wish I had mine here, so I could have worn it. It was a tiny band  in front, playing typical 17th of May marches and songs, and a lot of Norwegian flags. I wonder what the Scots and tourists thought, when they saw a bunch of people marching, everyone dressed up, with flags, singing songs and lots of umbrellas. Must have looked kinda strange.

Quite a few people..and umbrellas.

It wasn’t a very long parade, which I’m quite ok with, as it was so. much. rain. We followed it to the end, in the Princes Street Gardens by the Norwegian stone, where there were some speech and everyone singing the national song. That was pretty cool, standing in Scotland, in heavy rain, not being used to speaking Norwegian at all, and then hearing so many people singing this song together..I really enjoyed it and it made me feel all happy and, well, Norwegian again.

The Norwegian stone in the Princes Street Gardens, the women wearing bunad. And part of my umbrella. 

After that there were a short sermon and some more things happening afterwards, but as none of us are particularly Christian and we were pretty soaked by this point, we decided to retreat to a nice pub, where we spent the next 3-4 hours eating a good dinner and talking a lot. Great way to end the day!

How is your national day celebrated? Do you care much about it?

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2 responses to “Norwegian national day celebration..in Scotland

  1. I didn’t know there was a Norwegian stone in Princes Street Gardens! I must have a look for it some time when I’m in Edinburgh.

    The very first time I went to Norway, with a friend, we arrived in Bergen on 17 May. Neither of us had any idea it was your national day and we were really pleased to see all the flags flying everywhere. I remember remarking to my friend that it was nice to see so much patriotism and I loved the fact that your flag against the green scenery was so colourful (in what is already a very colourful country, with all the coloured houses and lovely countryside). It was a while before we realised that there was something unusual going on with so many flags flying, but that memory and the date of your special day has always stuck in my mind since then.

    • Neither did I, until I was there, but it’s pretty cool that it exists.

      Wow, yeah, that must be a nice way to see Norway for the first time! The flag against green scenery is really nice indeed, I’ve always liked that as well. Did you also see the children’s parade, either on that visit or later? It’s usually 10-11-12 in the morning sometime, depending on where you are, and it’s pretty cool to see. I don’t think any other country has a similar thing, so if you haven’t seen it, you should if you get the chance sometime.

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