Syttende Mai is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll. They did not, however, become independent from Sweden until 1905 and until then Syttende Mai celebrations were frowned upon and even forbidden.
Now, Norwegians celebrate their constitution with excited crowds, especially children, marching through the streets waving flags, singing songs, and celebrating their nation’s independence. Syttende Mai is a great opportunity to celebrate freedom wherever it occurs.
Find an album of pictures from the 2015 celebration here. Details will be announced later for the 2016 Syttende Mai celebration.
2015 events included:
- 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Museum open with free admssion.
- 11:00 a.m. Presentation, Ung kvinne til sjøs: Young Woman at Sea, by Kari Gronningsæter and Nick Preus in the museum’s Bethania Church on Mill Street. Hear the tale of this voyage around the world in 1913-1914, based on the letters and journals of Gronningsæter’s grandmother. The ship, a full rigger captained by Gronningsæter’s great-grandfather, sailed to Australia loaded with timber and returned to Norway loaded with wheat. On the way home, in the Atlantic, they found out that WW I had started.
- 11:30 a.m. Guided tour of the buildings in the Open Air Division.
- 12:30-1:00 p.m. Gather for Children’s Parade, at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, on Main Street
- 1:00 p.m. Children’s Parade through Decorah led by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers. The route starts on Main Street at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street. Everyone is invited to march along, or cheer from the sidewalks. Norwegian flags will be provided for everyone marching.
- 1:20-2:00 p.m. Vesterheim welcome and Decorah’s Nordic Dancers perform on Mill St. at the museum.
- 2:00 p.m. Guided tour of the buildings in the Open Air Division.
- 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Concerts by Decorah Youth Choirs in the museum’s Bethania Church on Mill Street. Decorah Youth Choirs will perform their Spring Concert at two different times as part of Vesterheim’s Syttende Mai celebrations this year. More than 75 pre-K through 9th grade singers from local communities participate in DYC’s four choirs. With songs from Norway, America, and around the world, this concert should be a lovely way to welcome spring!
- 4:00-6:00 p.m. Street dance with Decorah’s popular Scandinavian-American old-time dance band, Foot-Notes on Mill St. next to the museum.