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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

17th of May the Trøndelag way

TRONDHEIM: Warm temperatures may have relaxed dress codes and some traditions on Friday, when thermometers set quite a few records on Norway’s Constitution Day holiday. It was especially warm in the central region of Trøndelag, where 17th of May celebrations in the region’s biggest city seemed a lot more casual than those in Bergen, Oslo or Haugesund.

Warm weather in Trondheim on this year’s 17th of May celebrations led to wide variations of dress, from the graduating “russ” at left to casual summer wear and the traditional bunad.

There were still lots of men and women dressed in their bunad, the traditional costumes that represent different areas of Norway. Since nearly all are made of heavy wool, though, they can be mighty uncomfortable when temperatures rise above 25C like they did in and around Trondheim on Friday.

A wide variety of the bunad were nonetheless on parade, however, perhaps because of the city’s central position in the country and because it’s home to Norway’s highly acclaimed university specializing in science and technology, NTNU. It attracts people from all over the country (and the world) and may explain why there were nearly as many bunad from Svalbard, Nordland, Vestfold and Telemark as there were from Trøndelag. Many others, though, were casually dressed, even in shorts and T-shirts instead of the traditional suits and ties or bunad.

Crowds weren’t so large when flags were hoisted and wreaths laid at monuments like this one earlier in the day. The nearby flags represented not just Norway but also the Sami nation and the city.

The streets of Trondheim were also a lot quieter than they are in several other Norwegian cities early in the day, both at 8am flag-raising- and wreath-laying- ceremonies. They draw large crowds in Oslo and Bergen, for example, while Trondheim officials seemed grateful for the few dozen who showed up at Friday’s memorials outside the city’s famed Nidaros Cathedral.

By late morning, however, crowds had gathered along downtown streets and central squares, before no less than three parades began at 10am, 1:05pm and 3:30pm. The first one was the children’s parade called the “Schools’ Flag Parade” and the last was for the rowdy graduating high school students known as russ.

There were traditional marching bands in Trondheim’s “People’s Parade” that set off around the downtown area, after the school children’s parade and before the graduating high school students known as “russ…”
… along with local organizations and other bands like this one.

The parade in the middle of the day (timed to begin right after canons roared frlm Trondheim’s historic Kristiansten Fortress overlooking the city) was the longest and called Folketoget (the People’s Parade). It featured marching bands, city officials from politicians to firefighters, sports organizations, football clubs including Trondheim’s professional club Rosenborg and a wide variety of civic organizations from the local Red Cross to The Nepalese Society in Trondheim. There were gymnasts, sword-bearing fencing enthusiasts, hockey players and a large delegation of Taekwon-do fans.

Taekwon-do on parade in Trondheim on the 17th of May indicates how culturally diverse Norway has become over the past 30 years.

In the middle of all this were several street concerts and sing-alongs that also drew crowds of young and old. Patriotic songs were well represented, along with local favourites and, of course, the national anthem. Sing-alongs (called allsang in Norwegian) were popular at the 17th of May celebrations in Trondheim, and even fussy children suddenly seemed captivated by the sight and sound of parents and grandparents suddenly singing along with perfect strangers.

This popular band called Bispehaugen Veterankorps was among those highly active on the 17th of May in Trondheim. They not only played several traditional and patriotic tunes but encouraged passersby to join in by handing out sheets of paper with all the lyrics. Then it was easlier to sing along.

Local choirs were also busy on the 17th of May in Trondheim, including one made up of university students. They performed at the city’s main square, called Torvet, and offered powerful renditions of traditional songs ending, like most all others, with the national anthem.

This male choir made up of local university students is called Trondhjems Studentersangforening. They drew enthusiastic applause after their 15-minute performance that also ended with the national anthem.

The weather remained brilliant throughout the day, as crowds grew and then mingled around Trondheim’s City Hall, at central squares and especially at local bars and restaurants. They do brisk business on the 17th of May, and this year the holiday fell just before the traditional three-day pinse (Whitsund) holiday weekend that runs through Monday.

A parade of parades and lots of outdoor musical entertainment drew crowds to the area around Trondheim’s City Hall, as did the fine weather. The forecast for the upcoming holiday weekend wasn’t as good, with rain expected on Sunday along with temperatures down to around 13C.

ALL PHOTOS: Møst Berglund



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