Norwegians all over the country were ironing bunad shirts, practicing speeches and rehearsing patriotic songs as they prepared for the country’s Constitution Day celebrations on the 17th of May. In Bergen, they even wrapped up trees close to a parade route in Norway’s national colours.
City crews were out in force this week, cleaning streets, mowing lawns and, yes, wrapping the trunks of trees on Kaigaten, a busy street in Bergen that runs along a lake near the city center known as Lille Lungegårdsvann. It leads to Bergen’s Festplassen, an open square where the city’s parades begin and end.
There was lots of hectic activity at Festplassen itself on Tuesday afternoon, where crews erected a Viking Ship that serves as a stage for various events and entertainment throughout the day, and well into the night. It’s also where various awards were to be handed out in connection with events that begin at 7am and finally conclude with a fireworks show at 11:15pm.
Lots of marching bands have also been out practicing in advance of the parades held from Finnmark in the north to Oslo in the south, where King Harald V has recovered from an infection that hospitalized him last week. That means he’ll be able to wave as usual from the balcony of the Royal Palace as Oslo’s parade marches past below.
Bergen was otherwise decked out this week with patriotic flower displays, like this one in front of a pavillion adjacent to Festplassen, with the renovated Hotel Norge looming behind.
One of the songs sung all over the the country on the 17th of May is called Norway in red, white and blue, in honour of the flag that’s proudly waved as Norwegians greet one another with a boisterous Gratulerer med dagen (literally, “Congratulations with the day”). The holiday celebrates the Norwegian constitution that was written in 1814, when Norway was already keen to break out of a forced union with Sweden that finally ended in 1905. That’s when the flag could wave without Sweden’s colours tucked into a corner.
TEXT AND PHOTOS: NewsinEnglish.no