17th May is Norway’s national day. On this day in 1814, the Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll in Viken County. All round the country, and indeed round the world, Norwegians celebrate.
Outside of coronavirus times, the children march through town centres and teenagers in their last year at school don special «Russ» costumes of varying colours. After a month of pranks and dares, both inside and outside of school, they join the parades for their special day. There are various Russ outfits, the most common being dungarees with a Norwegian flag inside the front panel. The straps and flag are often left hanging and the trousers are decorated with slogans and pictures, as you can see with the green-dressed clarinet player standing at the front of the band. Red Russ is the most common, but some wear green, some blue, black or white, often depending on what course of study they are following.
Brass bands are very popular, and as well as the above band playing in the square, there was a marching band which came along the main street before the motor parade. The marching band includes school children who are provided with instruments and lessons after school in return for playing during celebrations.
Russ celebrations have been muted this year and other than the band, the children didn’t march here, but there was a parade of vehicles through the town centre. The emergency services turned out, as did many members of other industries. Ambulances, red cross, farmers and firemen drove through the streets along with motorcyclists and car enthusiasts.
And everywhere, the smart red, blue and white of the Norwegian flag.
Usually there’s a gathering afterwards, perhaps in a community hall, but this year we went home for our hotdogs.
And to top it off, a kransekake.
Happy 17th May everyone!