For many Norwegians, May 17th is even bigger than Christmas. Here are eight tips for getting the most out of the nation’s most important celebration.
Norwegians are the only people in Scandinavia who really go in for national pageantry, and May 17th is the day they pull out all the stops. “Syttende mai” as it’s known in the local vernacular is far and away the biggest street party Norway has all year, easily eclipsing New Year’s Eve.
Girls and women come out looking like Heidi in their colourful dirndl dresses, while the men and boys look like Georgian gentlemen in frock coats, top hats and 17th century shoes. Often, Norwegians will also sport the tartan pattern traditional to their home province.
Some of the costumes cost a ridiculous amount of money (more on that below), so all this dressing up is something the country takes very seriously indeed. Children’s parades make their way through every town and city, to the proud cheers of parents, before everyone sidles off for an afternoon’s festive drinking.
It’s all rather spectacular, but as a foreigner you may feel more than a little excluded by this manic focus on Norwegian-ness, and it’s easy to suspect that recent immigrants to the country are only grudgingly invited to the party.
That’s why The Local has put together an expat survival guide for Norway’s most important day of the year.
1. Dress like a local
This is easier said than done, seeing as the full “Bunad” traditional costume can set you back 70,000 kroner ($12,000), and dirndl dresses don’t come cheap either. But if you’re of African heritage and you come out on the streets dressed like Heidi, Norwegians will love you for it. It’ll sooth their underlying worries that all this nationalism might, just possibly, be a tad exclusionary. If your funds don’t stretch that far, wear a suit and carry a Norwegian flag. …. click the link to read more on