Constitutions are groundbreaking documents that establish fundamental principles by which a body of people are to be governed. Norway’s Constitution was written in 1814 at a time when cultures were emphasizing democracy and free will. The start of the 19th century brought with it new concepts on politics and national independence. The revolutions in the US (1776) and France (1789) paved the way and Norway was intent on following their lead.
Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway and is an official holiday observed on the 17th of May each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as Syttende Mai. Signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814, the constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark-Norway’sdevastating defeat in the Napoleonic wars.
Vi Feirer Grunnlovsubilet :: We Celebrate Constitution Day
A noteworthy aspect of the Norwegian Constitution Day is its very non-military nature. All over Norway, children’s parades with an abundance of flags, national costumes, and big smiles are the heart of the celebration. Decorations of leafy birch branches, in celebration of winter’s end, and ribbons of red, white and blue make for a festive atmosphere.
Syttende Mai is also celebrated in many Norwegian immigrant communities throughout the world, with traditional foods (I share one of our favorite recipes below), sometimes including lefse and lutefisk, but simple hot dogs are equally popular. In the United States and Canada, the local lodges of the Sons of Norway often play a central part in organizing the festivities. Our small lodge is no different; we gather for an annual brunch and special cultural programming including games and folk dancing.
Litt På Norsk :: A Little Norwegian
syttende mai – 17th of May
Norge – Norway
nasjonaldagen – national holiday
festdag – celebration
barnetoget – children’s parade
flagg – flags
Barna jublet og vinket tilbake med sine flagg. :: The children cheered and waved back with their flags.
Barna fant igjen foreldrene sine, og nå fikk de spise så mye de ville av iskrem og varme pølser. :: The children found their parents, and now they got to eat as much as they wanted of ice cream and hot dogs.
One of our favorite treats on Syttende Mai are Fastelavnsboller:
Fastelavnsboller :: Shrovetide Buns
3 1/2 cups (800g) plain white flour
3/4 cups 140g) sugar
10 1/2 tbsp (150g) butter
1 7g package active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups (525g) whole milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/3 cups (300g) whipping cream
powdered sugar for garnish
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cardamom and yeast.
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter.
- If you are using fresh yeast, in a small bowl mix together the yeast with some of the milk.
- Add the remainder of the milk to the melted butter and mix.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and add liquid ingredients. Mix well, work into a smooth dough and knead lightly.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size.
- Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Form into 20-24 buns, rolling them into an even size with your hands.
- Put the buns on a baking sheet and leave to rise for another 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Beat the egg and lightly brush onto buns with a basting brush.
- Place the buns into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
- When the tops of the buns are light brown and there is a light brown ring underneath them, remove them from the oven and let cool on a wire cooling rack.
- While the buns are cooling whip the cream, add superfine sugar to your taste. Place whip cream in refrigerator while the buns finish cooling.
- Halve the cooled buns and fill with the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
- ** We like to mix lingonberry preserves into the whipped cream.
For more activities and ideas to explore Scandinavian culture, check out my Barnesklubb Pinterest Board.