• Every country celebrates its national day but probably a very few likely to celebrate the day so enthusiastically as Norwegians do. Like every other year, 17. mai (17th May)  is a spring celebration with a festive mood throughout the country, especially in the capital of Oslo. Despite the current situation, we all did enjoy this day thoroughly, like every year with laughter, music, dance, and with love.  
  • Chaitra Shamraya blogs about her experience from working and living in Norway. From the student life in the village of Volda on the Norwegian west coast to the struggle with starting her career as an international journalist and an activist in Oslo, as well as working to establish he r PhD project.  In the summer of 2019, she started as a co-worker at Oslo Media House, where she is a very active contributor in journalism, as a speaker as well as freedom of speech activist.

May 17, Norway commemorates the signing of the constitution on that date in 1814, indeed a special day to all Norwegians. The tradition is to wake up to have lavish buffets with family, it can be rømmegrøt, and spekemat scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, bløtkake, along with a glass of something fizzy. They dress up their traditional Bunad and walk on the streets congratulating each other, waving at everyone's laughter with joy walking to the centre to watch the parade. In the capital city of Oslo, the children's parade will pass the Royal Palace, where the royal family will wave to the parade participants from the balcony.

It's a day full of national pride and children's march past following the bands playing traditional songs. The exciting fact about parades in Norway is, there is no display of military power compared to many other countries around the world nor any speech by the politicians. The local children carry flags and school banners as they march together with bands walking through the streets and buildings decorated with Norwegian flags. The sound of loud music comes from every corner, and the day ends, having a barbeque with family and friends. 

I would like to share how I celebrated the Norwegian National day in Oslo, in the times of Pandemic even though our social life has ground to a halt where fear and uncertainty are changing the world and waking up to a new set of rules, limitations, and changes. As new social distancing measures set out a week before to May 17 to reduce the spread of the virus eased the Norwegian society to celebrate the National day in a new way with the same spirit. I managed to document my entire day of events, as I celebrated the day with close friends. 

The sun was shining, and breeze by the ocean was pleasantly chill, taking deep breaths. I dipped myself in the cold salt water and came out feeling alive. That's how I started my day with activating my body's natural healing powers, waving the Norwegian flag as the winds rubbed against my skin. I had to get back home to pack the food and leave to a friend's place where we had a small gathering of lovely folks. 

I love Norwegian breakfast since the day I was introduced to it, and May 17 is a full sparse affair with lavish breakfast, and everyone got exceptional food made to the table of the buffet. The mid-morning parade began around 12; we saw a group of 50 children from school dressed in uniforms with their bands. At 13:00the crowd sang the national anthem, as the children played their instrumentals filled the room with pride and love for the country. 

One might hear several traditional songs sung and played by the band as they march on the streets. The melodies commonly heard are (translated in English) "Yes, We Love this Country," "Norway in Red, White, and Blue," "The Song of the King" and "Seventeenth of May I'm So Glad" are one of the favourites.  The royal family surprised everyone as they drove down on the streets of Oslo in open cars and waved at people. It's the National day, live the tradition, despite all the odds.

Regardless of the flowers bloomed, birds were chirping, so did we sing with her hearts, filled with warmness and love. The day was bright and long, giving us enough time to embrace this life. We sang and danced our hearts out. It is essential to recognize that this Pandemic will be over soon, and everything is going to be alright. We are here now living our lives in this strangest times; let's try to do things that are in our control and celebrate this life.

Follow Chaitra on Instagram @chaitrasacharya