On May 17th, 1814, at Eidsvoll, Norway declared itself to be an independent nation by signing the Constitution of Norway. Unfortunately it took until the 26th of October, 1905, for there to be a true, " dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden", and for Sweden to recognize Norway as an independent constitutional monarchy. June 7th, 1905 is the date when the Parliament of Norway officially broke the union with Sweden, but Sweden took a few months to acknowledge it.
Norway, which is now one of the most peaceful nations in the world, excluding that madmans shooting spree last year, has a history of external, and internal wars, and of being dominated and forced to be a part of other nations. Denmark held claim to Norway until the Napoleonic Wars ended, and then Norway was " handed over" to Sweden. After a brief war with Sweden the Norwegians were forced into a union with the Swedes. Cracks in this forced bond became apparent almost at once, and came to a head over what became known as the " Counsul Affair ". This " Affair " came about because the Norwegian government wanted to open up their own counsels abroad rather than continue to share joint consular offices with Sweden. In early 1905, Christian Michelsen formed a coalition government that established a Norwegian Corps of Counsuls. King Oscar the II of Sweden, however, refused to accept the laws which led to the Norwegian government resigning. The Swedish king said he could not form a new cabinet and therefore this impasse meant that there was a dissolution of the Swedish - Norwegian union .
The King of Sweden then called for a plebiscite, which was held on August 13th, 1905, that resulted in over 99 percent of the Norwegian population voting for dissolution. Many Swedish politicians wanted to press foward with their hardline views on the union, but the Swedish king had already decided it was not worth going to war over. Besides, most of the European nations saw the Norwegian claim of independence as a legitimate one, and Sweden did not want to be isolated over military action. The Norwegians looked to Denmark for their first independent king, and chose the 33 year old Prince Carl. He was chosen for several good reasons including the fact that he was married, and already had produced an heir. He was also married to a British subject which also was felt to be beneficial to their claim to independence.
You may ask what all of this has to do with Constitution Day. Well, at least in my mind having a constitution without having independence is like having a car without gas. You need both to go in the direction that you want to go. Also it is always better to tell the entire story than just a part of it.
O' k, back to Syttende Mai : Norway's Constitution Day.
In 1864, the tradition of a children's parade was established in Christiana. However, due to the gender prejudice of the time, only boys were allowed to march in the parade. It took until 1899 for the girls to finally be allowed to march in the parade as well. This celebration / parade is totally civil in participation, with no military presence. Well, maybe the military's band helps out a little ! Children of all ages carry banners, and wave Norwegian flags, while dressed in traditional clothes, as they march down the main thoroughfares throughout Norway's cities and towns. The main parade takes place in Oslo and is a televised event. There they march to the Royal Palace, where the king and queen of Norway greet the marchers.I have seen video and pictures of this procession, and it is truly a wonderful sight to see. There are also parties, music and dancing, etc... that continues after the parade ends. It fills me with great pride to see these proud, and peaceful people, showing their civic pride in their heritage, ancestry, and their freedom !
I raise my horn to the people of my ancestors, and say with all my heart and love : " Gratuler med Syttende Mai ! Skal, Min Venner ! " May the Gods and Goddesses continue to bless these wonderful people, and protect their great nation from harm ! Hail Norway ! Hail the Norwegian people !
P. S. If anyone from Norway has anything to add about this wonderful day please e - mail me or leave it in a comment. I would love to hear more about the way you celebrate Syttende Mai.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !