May 17 – Happy Birthday Norway

Gratulerer med dagen!

May 17 – Happy Birthday Norway is a very special day in Norway, you only have to take to the streets of Oslo to see a flurry of very smartly dressed folk all flying the Norwegian flag. Today is the celebration and anniversary of the declaration of the Norwegian Constitution signed in 1814, it is considered by all to be the birthday of Norway.


The day starts with a traditional champagne breakfast (Frokost) which consists of a selection of cold meats, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, salad and freshly baked bread.

For the rest of the day children are generally allowed to eat as much ice cream and as many pølser (hot dogs) as they want. The adults will mainly eat cured meats, pølser, traditional sour cream porridge and if the weather is good will light a BBQ for even more pølser. The traditional Norwegian cake must be displayed in the Norwegian colours of Red, White and Blue. Although coffee is the breakfast drink of choice, we are sure that some Norwegian’s do enjoy a nice cup of tea.


The celebrations start after breakfast with a parade of all the local school children through Oslo and up Karl Johan Gate (Oslo’s main street) which leads to the Royal Palace and this can last for up to 4 hours and is even shown on national television.  The King & Queen, The Crown Prince and Princess will stand on the Royal Palace balcony waving to every child that passes. (that is a lot of waving hey?)

May 17 – Happy Birthday Norway is also a celebration of the last year for secondary school students before they take their final exams. They are know as the “russ” and will usually been seen with a can of beer in their hand, wearing bright coloured trousers. Many of the students travel around town in a graffitied bus or van with load music pumping out and will party long into the night.


People tend to put on their best suit or nicest spring dress, with a Norwegian flag or traditional May 17 ribbon pinned. Many ladies will wear the official national dress (the bunad) and each bunad changes in appearance depending on what region you are from. It is fantastic to see all the differences in all the dresses and pride that each person has for their respective region.

Feature image photo credits: VisitOSLO/Heidi Thon