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Constitution Day (May 17) 2024 in Norway

Constitution Day is a day of celebration for everyone in Norway, and the guests of honor are the children. People dress in their finest, and celebrate all day.

Is 17 May Constitution Day (1814) a Public Holiday?

17 May Constitution Day (1814) is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.


Constitution Day in Norway kicks off at 07:00 (7 am) in the morning with a gun salute. To salute means “to greet,” and this tradition pays tribute to the day.

Day of Joy and Celebration

The Norwegian flag is raised on all flag poles nationwide; cars are decorated with flags, and sometimes children even decorate their bikes with flags and birth branches. Formal wear is expected, and many wear the Norwegian national costume, known as a “bunad.” If you’re outdoors in Norway on May 17—or simply “syttende mai” in Norwegian—you’ll be unable to miss that this is a day of joy and celebration.

Flowers and wreaths are ceremoniously placed at memorial sites to honor the men and women who laid down their lives during the Second World War, and to remind people that freedom and peace cannot be taken for granted.

Norway was occupied by the Nazis for five years during WWII, and during the occupation, all celebrations were forbidden, and democracy was set aside. This repression during the war is precisely why there was such a strong gathering around the national day in the post-war period, with the children’s parade at the center of the observance.

The Children’s Day

While other countries celebrate their independence with military parades, Norway does not follow this tradition. It stems from a suggestion from the poet and Nobel Prize winner in literature, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, in 1870. He suggested that Norway should parade its future, the children, on its National Day. To this day, school children and marching bands parade through the city center together, and the kids sing and wave their flags to the marching bands’ tunes.

In Norway’s capital, Oslo, the children’s parade walks past the Royal Palace, where the Norwegian royal family waves to the kids from the palace balcony. Schools nationwide have games and entertainment for the kids after the parades. This day’s menu includes soda, hot dogs, and ice cream, and it’s an unwritten rule that the kids can eat as much ice cream as they want.

Celebrating Graduation

You may notice some tired-looking young adults in red or blue overalls among the people in national costumes and suits.

They are called “russ,” and this celebration is part of their high school graduation. The 18-year-olds have been celebrating all of May, sometimes longer, and it’s common to party the whole night between 16 and 17 May—something you can often tell by looking at them.

The russ are also known for playing pranks, which are added as trophies on the string of their graduation cap.

Why Is May 17 Celebrated?

Norway’s Constitution was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly at Eidsvoll on May 16, 1814, and signed the following day, May 17, 1814.

Even though the constitution was established in 1814, Norway didn’t gain independence until 1905, with the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905.

Constitution Day celebrations began in 1836 when it was instituted as a national holiday.

Today, Constitution Day is a public holiday and day off for most Norwegians. In Norwegian, it’s often called “syttende mai,” or simply “May 17.”

17 May Constitution Day (1814) Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2019FriMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2020SunMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2021MonMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2022TueMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2023WedMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2024FriMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2025SatMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2026SunMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2027MonMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2028WedMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day
2029ThuMay 1717 May Constitution Day (1814)National holiday, Flag day

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.