Upon first moving to Norway this type of celebration was really hard to swallow. First, 11 years ago I was not in the economic place to even dream of using my absolute best formal wear (which could not be replaced at that point) for anything else other than a wedding or christening. Secondly, I couldn't understand how a nation could love their country so much that they could show their love so openly for it: open parades where everyone was shouting and singing cheers, greeting everyone with a 'gratulerer med dagen' and a smile, even if you'd only met that person once before, eating the foods their forefathers ate and eating it with pride, even though many don't know how to make this food anymore. All the things that might be politically 'wrong' with the country (which could be anything depending upon which political party you support) are forgotten for the day.
Where I came from, such conduct was closely associated with right wing political groups that one should keep their distance from. Scary images from history books appeared without warning in my mind.
Over a decade has passed now. Not only am I in a far different place economically (though I sometimes continue to be as cheap as I was earlier.... but that's a different story). And I've been here long enough to see the difference between loving one's country and starting up a totalitarian regime. While I probably won't every get my Norwegian citizenship, I think it's so cool to live in this country. I'm thankful that my life has taken me here. And I am so proud of my kids being Norwegian. Now that rocks. And seeing my kids start to appreciate Norway, and celebrate May 17th in the way it's supposed to be celebrated, moves something deep within me.
This May 17th I was on my own. My husband had to unfortunately work this day. But I was undaunted by the task ahead of me. I woke the kids up (they were the only ones in the neighborhood who were not woken by the canons of Bergen being shot out to sea), fed them a semi-nutritious breakfast, got them dressed, and did their hair.
Here are two pictures of them, before they started to become a bit undone:
My son and his friend in their outfits. My son (on the right) is wearing an Askøy bunad, loaned to us by his cousins who have since grown out of it. Unfortunately this is the last year he will be fitting into it. You can see at this point that my son is already starting to become 'undone', his hair sticking up in different directions, despite good quantities of hair spray used.
Here they come!
The lead procession.
The grade 7 class of the school (which is the last year before they begin what is equivilent middle school or junior high).
A woman in her gorgeous bunad. I unfortunately am not educated well enough and cannot recognize most bunads. This is one from the west coast, in any case...... lots of embroidery and little gold or silver.
A proud Norwegian father in his bunad, pushing his two small children.
A little girl in a festdrakt.
Family friends marching by. Notice the little blue festdrakt on the boy.
More friends stopping to say hi. These bunads shown here are the female version of Askøy bunads.
The music corps that passes by in their finery.
More people in their Sunday best.
My son and his friend who walk on by, completely absorbed in their own cheers and ignoring my shouts to turn around so I can take a good pictures of them.
More children in their wonderful costumes.
A really cool vest. I do not know if this is a bunad vest, or a festdrakt vest. I suspect it's a festdrakt vest, but am waiting for someone to tell me for sure.
The belt on this bunad is made entirely from pearl beads. Amazing work, and almost impossible to find or re-create these days.
I do believe these green bunads come from the more nothern part of Norway. Again, I'm waiting for confirmation (or otherwise) on this.
Here is a type of 'fishing' game. One must try to hook and pull up a small block of wood. The hooks are almost circular in nature, so it's not that easy. But at the same time it is something the smallest kid can do with some concentration. Underneath the blocks of wood are mostly markings of an 'O'. But if you find an 'X', then you win a prize.
There is also games that involve walking on stilts.... lots of fun for the older boys and girls. All is made a bit more difficult due to the formal clothes being worn that day. But if it was accomplished in the late 1800's and early 1900's when such clothes were worn daily, it must be possible to still accomplish this today!
In this case one must find a picture of a Canadian flag (which I thought was pretty cool in itself).
And we have a winner!
It's hard to see here, but she won a round jar of lip gloss that was packaged as a lollipop. This was very cool in her eyes.
There was also contests to see who could hammer a nail into a plank of wood the fastest.
A jousting contest, to see who's toughest.
Finally there was also a contest to see who was most skilled at shooting an air rifle. Lots of people, both female and male, and of all ages lined up to try their hand at this.
But I do think it was a bit unfair that this man, straight out from the military lined up as well. Having said this, Norway still has conscription, so most men over a certain age have spent time in a military.... as well as a large number of younger men and women. It's hard to know what skills are hiding under those fine clothes.