Tonje Lilleås

Happy Birthday Norway

17th of May is just an ordinary day to most people of the world. In Norway however we celebrate Norways constitution on this date. Happy Birthday Norway!

A surprising parade

Morning on the 17th of May is a stressful one every year. Hence the evening before is usually spent preparing all the celebratory food, and our outfits are ironed and lined up. We wake early, have a nice breakfast and rush to get ready for the first children’s parade of the day. More than once I’ve wished we didn’t have to have such a stressful start to the day.

This year however we missed the stress a bit. We did get up early, but had no need to rush to get ready in time for the parade. You see, the parades were cancelled this year due to COVID-19. I’m not sure anyone except Norwegians can understand how big a deal that is. And so we were very pleasantly surprised when we found that a few families were gathering for a local parade in our neighborhood. Bright, joyful and cheering children is a key ingredient for a proper 17th of May celebration. And in the local parade we saw lots of them. All keeping safe distance to each other, following the rules and restrictions following COVID-19.

Barbecue, cakes and games

Barbecue for lunch followed by some fun games in the garden was great fun to all of us. Singing the national anthem with the rest of the country at 1 PM gave the day the right ceremonious mood. And the cakes. The cakes made it all a real party. My brother in law joined us for most of the day, which was great. This day is usually spent with family and friends, and having someone join our little family of four (five counting the dog, and let’s be honest we do count the dog) made it a bit more special.

A different kind of celebration

I have to admit that I’ve missed the normal 17th of May celebration today. We’ve had a fine day and I think everyone has enjoyed themselves. However it is the first time since the war that the people of Norway haven’t gathered for the large parades. And it’s the first time since having kids we haven’t had any grandparents around for the party.

If this was a normal 17th of May we would be going to the town center for ice cream right about now. We would meet up with my father in law and my wife siblings. This year we’re not doing that. He passed around new year, and I’ve been thinking about how weird that is. This somewhat insignificant tradition of ice cream after dinner on the 17th of May doesn’t seem so insignificant anymore. We will make new traditions, but this year I think we’d all wished to be on our way for ice cream with grandpa after dinner.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful 17th of May wether you’ve spent it celebrating Norways constitution or not. Next year I hope we’re back to normal celebrations with large parades, marching bands, hugs for those we hold dear and games for the kids. Once again; Happy Birthday Norway!

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