Text and Photo by The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Vietnam
Hanoi’s small Norwegian diaspora met for a fun and festive celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day yesterday. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as “17th of May” or “The Constitution Day”, and it is the official National Day of Norway. Celebrations in Vietnam took place in both the capital and in HCMC.
A noteworthy aspect of Norwegian Constitution Day is its very non-military nature. It is in fact considered to be primarily a day for the children. All over Norway, children parade with an abundance of flags, and each elementary school district arranges its own parade with marching bands between schools. Outside of Norway, Norwegians all over the world celebrate the 17th of May with similar parades, speeches, and more. In Hanoi, around 30 Norwegians gathered for a small but memorable children’s party during the day, with a very small children’s parade around Hanoi’s West Lake district and traditional games that involved big and small alike.
The longer history…
The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll, Norway on May 17, 1814 and declared Norway as an independent nation. The celebration of this day began spontaneously among students and other people in early years. At that time, Norway was under Swedish rule, but in 1905, Norway was peacefully separated from Sweden and became a truly independent country. By historical coincidence, World War II ended when the occupying German forces surrendered in Norway on May 8, 1945, just nine days before that year’s Constitution Day. Even if the Liberation Day is an official flag day in Norway, the day is not broadly celebrated. Instead, a new and broader meaning had been added to the celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17.