May 17th in Kirkenes

As you can see in the head image above, there wasn’t a lot of people out in the streets. Even though Norway is lifting many of the restrictions related to the corona outbreak, we still can not gather more than 50 people in one place. Which is why Norways biggest national event didn’t become crowded celebration it usually is. Most people participated from the safe distance of their balcony.

May 17th in Kirkenes, 2020

I consider myself to be very lucky to be working on this occasion. I was following the band for the whole day, all around town, enjoying the music and the uplifting speeches. Most activities, such as children’s parade, school cafe and champagne breakfast, were cancelled this year, but not the bands. I don’t think there could ever be any 17th of May celebration without the bands and patriotic songs  they play, like “Yes, we love this country” and “This is Norway in red, white and blue”. This year I discovered a new marching tune, “Telemark bataljon” – curious souls can listen to it here.

Kirkenes - May 17th 2020

One of the things that made a huge impression yesterday, was a visit to the elderly center. I interviewed three ladies in their 90s. They had dressed up in beautiful dresses, put on flag pins and pearls, and were really looking forward for the band to arrive and play outside their windows. Although they were a bit sad because the children’s parade got canceled because of COVID-19, the mood was cheerful and expectant. This is such a joyful day, one of them told me, seemingly happy and excited about being interviewed. The flag pins on our jackets were exactly the same. I asked her to tell about a May 17th which she remembered especially well. Her smile fell immediately. I have some trouble remembering, she said quietly and suggested I ask someone else. Her face, when she felt she couldn’t fulfill my – and her own expectations, and the feeling that awoke in my own chest, will probably stay with me for a long while. Everything is temporary. All we can do is go with the flow and treasure every moment.

17. mai 2020, Kirkenes

Another interesting experience was checking in on the drive-in church service. The preach was about our society buing built on trust and it was quite inspiring. The confidence we have in each other, the fantastical feeling of being trusted and the faith in equality – Norway a beautiful country to live in. We need to cherish this. I caught the priest on camera just as he was changing into his cassock (I had to google that word) in his trunk-wardrobe. 

Drive-in church in Kirkenes 1705.2020

Have a good day everyone!

If you want to know more about May 17th, check this post >>>

A special May 17th coming up

Tomorrow is the Norwegian Constitution Day, the biggest national celebration in Norway. People dress up in traditional suits (bunad) or clothes in red, white and blue (the colors of the Norwegian flag). Everyone say “Happy Birthday!” to each other. It’s a day for many dear traditions, such as marching in parades and eating as many ice creams as you can.

This year’s celebration will be different. The reason doesn’t really need further explanation with the whole world being affected by the pandemic.

Then again, no May 17ths have ever been the same…

Are you ready for a walk down the memory lane with me?

The first, or maybe second, 17th of May after moving to Oslo.

Last year

I was the proud co-host of an amazing champagne breakfast. This is probably the May 17th when I managed to uphold most of the traditions that go with this celebration. I got a champagne headache before leaving the breakfast table, but still walked in the parades and ate an ice cream, despite the weather being rather chilly. Looking at the photos from last year, I realize there is actually way more snow lying around right now.

Breakfast table - 17.05.2019
Everyone brought champagne and something for the table.

The very first photo

I was ten years old. My mom handed me kodak camera and here is the result. I don’t really remember much of this day, only that it was kind of uncomfortable. I think it had something to do with the competitions that had been arranged in the school yard; jumping around with a sack around the legs, carrying a potato with a spoon in the mouth – that kind of activities. But the ice creams I ate, made it all a lot better.

May 17th
A day I vaguely remember thanks to the photos.


Karl Johans gate

If there is one place you definitely should experience on this day, it’s Karl Johans gate – the main street of the city of Oslo. Here you can watch parades, orchestras and bunads from all parts of Norway, and it’s a long-standing tradition that the royal family of Norway waves from a balcony of the royal palace, the yellow building which you see at the end of the street in the photo. The king usually gives a beautiful and unifying speech about what we actually celebrate on May 17th, our including and free society ❤


Gratulerer med dagen!