Hipp hurra for Norge! Today is syttende mai, Norway's independence day. On the 17th May 1814 Norway's constitution was signed, ostensibly marking the country's birth as an independent nation (it actually wasn't until 1905 that Norway became completely free of Swedish rule). To this day Norway lays claim to the world's second oldest constitution in continual force, and every year the 17th May is proudly celebrated across the country.
Syttende mai is typically characterised by huge colourful street parades of marching school bands and lots and lots of flag waving. As a Brit, I've sadly become wary of mass bouts of flag waving, as all too often in UK the Union Flag and flag of St. George get hijacked by right wing football hooligan types. Fortunately, flag waving in Norway carries none of that unpleasant jingoism, and on the 17th May the joy and pride of Norway's relatively new found independence seems very palpable. A common greeting heard on the streets is "gratulerer med dagen", or "happy birthday."
Oslo is obviously home to the largest parades, and every year over a hundred schools walk down the capital's famous Karl Johans Gate and past the royal palace, where the royal family wave to the crowds from the balcony. This year though, I spent syttende mai in Lillehammer, where Mrs. Nibbler's family come from. Although more subdued than Oslo, the parades were just as joyous, and as always the focus is on making it a fun day out for the kids.
|Kids in Russ outfits|
Syttende mai doesn't really have many food traditions associated with it. but usually unholy amounts of ice cream are consumed, along with the ubiquitous (and frankly vile) 'pølser', or hot dogs. It is also common to have brunch together with family or friends, where smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and maybe a drop or two of champagne would be served. Another common food eaten on this day is 'kransekake' - a tiered cake made from almonds, egg whites and sugar. The trick is make it so that it is hard on the outside yet still soft and chewy in the middle. It is delicious.
This year the Nibbler family went for lunch at the opulent Lillehammer Hotel, a 100 year old hotel located near the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics. As is typical, the hotel had a laid out a buffet lunch, and although I normally run a mile from this sort of thing, it was actually really rather excellent.
|Dining room at the Lillehammer Hotel|
Of course, it wouldn't be the 17th May without lots of cakes and kransekake, and the Lillehammer Hotel provided an impressive spread.
We left happy with bellies bursting vowing to come back next year. Gratulerer med dagen, Norge!