Karen Koren: Happy Syttendai Mai

Flag carrying Norwegian girls in  Princes street Gardens on  Norway day.
Flag carrying Norwegian girls in Princes street Gardens on Norway day.

TODAY is Norwegian Constitution Day or Syttende Mai as its known in Norway.

A wonderful spring holiday celebrated with red, white and blue ribbons, national costumes and waving of the Norwegian flag, the three colours are everywhere in Norway at this time of year.

It’s a day Norwegians all over the world take off to celebrate and marks the historic signing of the Constitution in 1814, the year Norway gained its independence from Sweden, which was fully realized in 1905.

In every city, town and village in Norway, children and adults alike express their cultural pride by marching to the bright music of school bands, celebrating the joy of springtime and honoring of those citizens who created Norway’s constitutional government, founding her indep-endence.

Especially popular is the Children’s Procession that brings every child out in their best clothes or national costume.

In Edinburgh the Norwegian community celebrate Syttende Mai too.

I have been part of it every year except the last few when I have been in Norway for the day.

Edinburgh’s celebrations include the Norwegian Scottish Society dinner, after a reception at the Norwegian Consulate’s residence.

Most exciting are the Norwegian students in Edinburgh who hold a breakfast at Prestonfield House followed by a parade along Princes Street.

I led the parade many years ago, when I was in my twenties, carrying a very big Norwegian flag.

I inherited a beautiful Norwegian costume (bunad) from my mother. It was handmade by a lady who only made five costumes in her lifetime, two of which were gifted to the Queen of Norway and her daughter.

As tradition, I have passed my costume on to my daughter.