May 17

Constitution Day parade in Hamar, Norway. Photo credit: Torstein Frogner. Our celebration tomorrow will doubtless look exactly like this.

I will not be posting tomorrow, as I’ll be participating in my Sons of Norway lodge’s Syttende Mai (May 17) celebration. We’ll host a meal of Norwegian open-faced sandwiches and I’ll give a lecture on the history of the holiday.

What confuses people about Syttende Mai is that it’s Norway Constitution Day, not its independence day. It seems illogical to put the constitutional cart before the independence horse, but that’s what happened in the land of the midnight sun. The constitution was drafted as part of an abortive independence effort in 1814, and over the following 90 years or so, the Norwegians stubbornly celebrated the day just to aggravate their Swedish overlords. By the time independence came in 1905, Constitution Day was deeply ingrained in the national psyche. All other holidays, even Independence Day, take a back seat.

Have a good one!

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