Royal Palace in Norway

Today is Norway’s National Day, which we Norwegians just call, “17th May”! This will probably sound strange, but this is a day where most Norwegians dress up, some in national costumes. And then, we head into the town centers, walk around in parades with marching bands, while singing and shouting “hurra” (hurray), to be followed by the eating of hot dogs and ice cream!

This is the day we celebrate our Constitution, which was signed in 1814.  The traditional way of celebrating this day is a children’s parade. The holiday is recognized throughout Norway, and I am sure that wherever there is a school, there is a celebration going on!
When I was a child, this was, next to Christmas and birthdays, the highlight of the year. Let me explain…

As children, we would prepare for it for months by practicing our national anthem in class.  A couple of days before the big day, we would also do a practice “parade” around the neighborhood.

This is something we also did in nursery/kindergartens – everybody takes part!. The outfit was also very important, it was very often white, blue or red (like the colors of the Norwegian flag), but especially white (if I remember correctly), as this was the beginning of spring.

I would also get new shoes every year. And, every year I would be so excited about my new outfit that I would beg my mum to be allowed to wear it. But no, you could not wear it until the big day itself. You can only imagine the amount of blisters us kids would have after a whole day of walking around in new shoes!

My day would start very early, and at the breakfast table there would be a surprise stack of coins for me that I was allowed to spend on whatever I liked!

Then, it would be off to the school for 8am as the flag was being put up on the flagpole. Next, we would go on a parade (with a marching band and choir and lots of flags) around the neighborhood (basically to wake all the neighbors).

Then, we would go into the center of town to meet up with children from all the other schools in the city, and the next couple of hours would be spent walking in a huge parade through the center of town and passed the palace where the royal family would wave at everybody.

Finally, it would be back home for lunch and then off to school, where there would be lots of games and fun and lots of ice cream and hot dogs. At the end of the day, my lovely white outfit would not be quite so white, and I would be totally exhausted!

Locals Celebrating National Day in Oslo, Norway.

To some people this day might sound a tad too nationalistic, with all this marching and flag waving, but it truly is a children’s day (not military). And, the day includes everybody of all backgrounds and nationalities.

National Day is a day where everybody is in a good mood (apart from grumpy grandparents who are trying to see the grandchildren walking in the parade, and use their elbows to get to the front for a good view)!

These days, I celebrate quite differently. My husband and I like to find a place near the water to have a nice pint, and then meet up with friends for a barbecue, if the weather permits it.

So, apologies for not responding to any of your comments today because my fellow World Moms Blog writer, Ambre French, and I are in Oslo enjoying a pint (or maybe just an ice cream as the children are with us), and we are celebrating with our families!

Our National Day is celebrated amongst Norwegians all over the world, but although I lived in London for 8 years, I never once went to Battersea Park to take part. I was either at work  (can you belive that my English employer did not give my the day off?), or I was at home in Norway celebrating.

Here are some of the places around the world you can go to celebrate Norwegian National Day (or to just watch):


Australia and New Zealand:


London, UK:


“Hurra for 17 mai!” 🙂

Do you celebrate a similar national holiday in your home country? If so, do you do anything special with your children on that day? 

This is an original World Moms Blog post by Asta Burrows in Oslo, Norway.  Asta can be found on her Facebook Page or on Twitter @AstaBurrows.

The photographs for this post are attributed to the author.

Astrid Warren (Norway)

Astrid is a Norwegian thirty something, married, working mum to a wee lad who is almost three and a baby born in 2012! She grew up in Norway, but moved to London, England after she met her husband. After living there during her twenties, she has since returned to Norway and settled down in her nation's capital of Oslo to raise her family. She finds herself slowly turning into her own mother as her free time is spent reading, walking, knitting and meeting up with other mums for coffee. (Ok, she still secretly loves going to the pub, too!). However, there isn't much time for any of the above, as she now enjoys spending most of her time crawling around on the floor, while playing with her children! Check out her blog, Quintessentially Burrows. She's also on Twitter @MrsSWarren.

More Posts