Syttende Mai in Minot

Friday will be the time for Minoters to unfurl the red, white and blue flag of Norway, in celebration of its national day, Syttende Mai. The city’s 106 year-old Thor Lodge of the Sons of Norway will be holding a midday walking parade, at the Scandinavian Heritage Center’s park on Broadway. It will be a time to walk around the park, singing traditional songs and parading the country’s colors.

At 6:30 Friday evening there will also be a banquet held at the Holiday Inn (Riverside) Hotel. The steak dinner’s entertainment will feature “Crazy Fingers” Gordie Lindquist, a pianist and humorist who has become something of a fixture at the city’s annual Hostfest. People interested in attending should contact Joan Varty at 839-1308 by Thursday at the latest; the cost is $18 per plate.

In Norway, Syttende Mai is the day to celebrate the signing of its constitution in 1814, establishing itself as an independent nation. Prior to that, Norway had been part of a united kingdom under Danish rule since 1524. Allied with France during the Napoleonic Wars, the Danes found themselves on the losing side of the conflict and were forced to cede Norway to Sweden at the 1814 Treaty of Kiel.

Not wanting to be part of another united kingdom, Norway chose a king and drew up a constitution, signed May 17, 1814. However, the fledgling constitutional monarchy was unable to find support from other European nations, and after a brief war with the Swedes conceded to the union that August at the Convention of Moss. The Norwegian constitution was kept, but amended to allow a political union with Sweden. This state of affairs lasted until 1905, when Norway peaceably dissolved the union, elected a new king and achieved total independence.

According to the Census Bureau, as of 2009 30.8 percent of North Dakota’s population is of Norwegian descent.