Norwegians have many traditions for our National Day, May 17, but there are a few things all good Norwegians should have stocked up on before the big day. We present to you the 7 things you’ll need for a successful syttende mai.
There’s no Norwegian Constitution Day without the colors of red, white and blue adorning the streets wherever May 17 is celebrated. If you don’t have a flag pole, make sure you have an array of smaller flags; they are perfect for decorating the house or breakfast table, as well as for the children’s parade. Waving your flag and shouting HIPP HIPP HURRA! will surely put you in the right syttende mai spirit.
No other country in the world is so proud of its traditional costume as Norway. The traditional costume comes in various designs, depending on where in the country it stems from. Most people wear the bunad from their own fylke (county) or from where their parents or grandparents come from. As a new bunad can be a costly investment, and that’s why many Norwegians inherit their bunad from family members such as parents, grandparents or siblings. Most Norwegians wear their bunad with pride, not even teenagers are ashamed to be seen in public wearing them.
Many cultural traditions in Norway revolve around food, and May 17 is no exception. Many Norwegians gather with friends and family early in the morning for a day-long breakfast buffet, potluck style, usually with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon as headliners. Later in the day, people might snack on a classic hot dog, and in the evening, many people go to barbecue parties. It’s normal to be eating and drinking your way through this day. Find a perfect recipe for a heavenly May 17 cake here.
Music is a major part of May 17. You’ll see choirs, marching bands and children singing in the parade wherever you are. Make sure you have your song booklet ready and that you remember all the eight verses to the National Anthem (or at least the two first and the last, which is what most Norwegians remember, anyways).
5. Ice cream
If there’s an activity that never gets old on May 17, it’s having ice cream! And we’re not talking about having only one. This is one of the reasons why kids love May 17 so much; it’s the only day in the year when they can have as many ice creams as they want.
6. Good shoes
This will be a day of walking, whether you are marching in the parade or not, so a pair of good shoes is essential. Sneakers might not be appropriate for the festive attire worn on May 17, but is absolutely accepted for children marching in the parade, and later in the afternoon when you might decide to change out of your bunad.
7. Potato sacks
Both the potato race and the potato sack race are typical games at all syttende mai parties and can be played by both young and old. Remember to use proper potato sacks, don’t go for the plastic bags, as they break too easily and enables cheating. Besides, they’re bad for the environment.
Now that you know how to prepare for a successful May 17, we hope you’ll have an amazing syttende mai celebration! Hipp, hipp, hurra!