Celebrating Norway’s Constitution day

Area Norwegians invite any interested person to join them in a special celebration of Syttende Mai on May 17, which is Norway’s Constitution day.

Minot events include a parade and program May 17 at Scandinavian Heritage Park and an evening banquet and program at the Grand Hotel, Kari Mahle of Glenburn, said. Mahle, who immigrated to North Dakota as a young adult, is social director for the Thor Lodge of the International Sons of Norway lodge.

This year marks 200 years that the constitution in Norway has served its people. “Only Norway and the United States still use constitutions that are more 200 years old,” Mahle said.

In Minot, the observance begins at noon in Scandinavian Heritage Park. A parade around the park, an annual event, is expected to be even more well attended in this anniversary year.

“We will start at the park’s visitors center,” Mahle said. “We encourage people to bring their Norwegian flags to wave but we have some extra flags on hand, too.”

She said some visitors may choose to bring lunches for a picnic in the park.

“The Scandinavian Heritage Park will be a busy place on May 17,” she observed, “since it is also the first day Hostfest tickets go on sale.”

Children are an important part of the celebration in Oslo, Norway’s capitol, with schools organizing students to march and sing as they parade before the royal family on the balcony at the palace there.

Mahle noted a Young Vikings group recently organized in Minot will take part in festivities here.

The Syttende Mai parades are not military displays, although the constitution grew out of wars. The document, signed in 1814 at Eidsvoll, declared Norway to be an independent nation, to avoid being ceded to Sweden after the defeat of the Denmark-Norwegian forces in the Napoleanic wars. The holiday is sometimes called Constitution Day or Independence Day in Norway.

In Minot, after the parade and singing Norwegian songs at the park, Sons of Norway choir and other members will take the party to Edgewood Vista, where they will sing, dance and entertain residents at 2 p.m.

The evening at the Grand Hotel begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30.

Country Sunshine, a band from Tioga, will provide musical entertainment at the Grand.

Anyone is welcome for all events, Hale said, but reservations are required for the banquet. For information and reservations, contact Sons of Norway treasurer DeLane Disrud, 413 Hillcrest Drive, Minot, or telephone 839-384. Tickets are $15 per person for non-members or $17.50 for lodge members.

Mahle said when she visited her home area near Bergen, Norway, on May 17 a few years ago, there was a massive celebration of Syttende Mai. “They had a big salute in the morning, then a church service and a parade from the church to the school. After a program there, and a big meal, there were games for the children.”

In Oslo, Norwegians also parade in front of the Parliament building, Mahle said, and every big Norwegian city hosts its own celebration.

“All those red, white and blue Norwegian flags waving in front of the birch trees it’s very beautiful,” she said.