Thursday, May 17, 2012

Syttende mai i Oslo. HIPP HIPP HURRA!

Today Norway celebrates "syttende mai" or simply May Seventeenth which is the main civic holiday in the country (think US independence day or Canada day). On this day Norwegians all over the country celebrate the signing of their constitution, but in reality the seventeenth of May  is about much more than just that. I will be the first to admit that despite having lived in Oslo for nearly a year and being married to a wonderful Norwegian woman... much of Norwegian culture and society is a mystery to me. That being said, in my mind syttende mai seems to represent everything that is good  about Norway s(respect, equality, dignity and democracy).  Now don't get me wrong, Norway is by no means perfect... but you would be hard pressed to find many other countries on earth with comparable standards when it comes to quality of life.

In Oslo the mainstay of the festivities (other eating sausages and ice cream) is the massive parade which makes its way up Karl Johans gate all the way up to the royal palace. Now, there is some truth in the stereotype that Norwegians are a fairly reserved, stoic and unassuming people, but during this parade that all goes out the window. The most impressive features of the parade is its sheer size and duration... at nearly three hours and with literally tens of thousands of participants, yes, again, tens of thousands. The parade represents seniors, people with special needs, the military, police, the kings guard, the royal family (from a balcony anyway) and students from just about every single school in the entire commune. Another wonderful feature of the holiday are all the women, men and children dressed in their stunning local costumes (as you can see by the photos).

A couple of days ago I was speaking to a North Korean man on the tram when going to university... he was telling me about how he had just received his permanent immigrant status papers and was looking forward to starting a new life in Norway. Those of us lucky enough to call ourselves nationals of countries such as Norway or Canada need to once in a while take a brake from complaining and being cynical (not that there is not anything to complain or be cynical about!) and acknowledge how truly fortunate we are.  HIPP HIPP HURRA FOR NORGE!

And of-course the most lovely Norwegian of them all :)


eldani said...

hey que chevere, feliz 17 de mayo!, aqui en alemania hoy se celebra el dia del padre y de los hombres!

Joanna said...

Carlos, this was a beautiful piece and I LOVE the final photo... she is the most beautiful Norwegian of all!