Celebrations in Norway and South Korea
On 17 May, it is the colourful processions of children with their banners, flags and bands that play the main role. The day is celebrated with as much enthusiasm in Norwegian villages (albeit on a smaller scale) as in the capital city of Oslo where tens of thousands line Karl Johans gate, Oslo’s main thoroughfare, every year to watch the parade. Parades, concerts, talks and general merrymaking are the order of the day.
Pupils in the last year of secondary school make a huge contribution to the celebrations. They are called “russ”, are dressed in red or blue costumes, and spend the whole of May celebrating. They have their own parades, with buses and vans with loud sound systems. Ask them for a “russekort” and you will get their personal sixth former card, with personal info and jokes on it.
Another distinctive characteristic that contributes to making this a unique day is all the beautiful national costumes that many Norwegians wear on the day.
There are hundreds of different ones, each more colourful than the other, and in the capital Oslo, it is not unusual to see bunads from all over the country, as residents and visitors alike proudly wear the costume associated with the region their family comes from.
In South Korea the largest Constitution Day celebration is held in Busan every year. This year it is celebrated 12 May. Click here for more practical information in Norwegian language.
After being part of the Danish autocracy for 400 years, Norway got its own constitution in 1814 and joined into a loose union with Sweden that lasted until 1905.
A limited and hereditary monarchy was introduced, whereby the king would exercise his authority through a government, while Parliament (Storting) would allocate monies and make laws. The Norwegian constitution was the most modern in Europe at the time.
Norway's Constitution, which declared the country to be an independent nation, was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May 1814, and despite full independence having had to wait until 1905, this date remains Norway's official National Day.