Constitution Day in Norway

Constitution Day is a holiday in Norway that’s observed annually on May 17th. Also known as Norwegian Constitution Day, or as ‘Syttende Mai’ (May 17th in Norwegian), this holiday commemorates the signing of the first Constitution of Norway that made the country independent of Sweden and was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814.

Other names for this holiday in Norway include ‘Nasjonaldagen’ (National Day) and ‘Grunnlovsdagen’ (Constitution Day). It is a public holiday observed in several different ways across Norway, but people can expect a lot of fun, games, and entertainment on this day to enjoy.

The History Of Constitution Day In Norway

With the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars looming, Norway created a Constitution that declared it an independent kingdom from Sweden. This document was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814, and was based on the American and French Constitutions. However, the full independence of the country wouldn’t occur until June 7, 1905. Even so, the date this original constitution was signed remains the National Day of Norway.

This date wasn’t always one that could be observed, however. Between 1820 and 1829, while Norway was still a part of Sweden, celebrating this holiday was banned by Swedish King Karl Johan.

After the end of the 1820s, this holiday was at risk of being just a footnote in Norwegian history, but its status was saved when writer Henrik Wergeland gave a public speech honoring the heritage of Norway on Constitution Day of 1833. The holiday soon took off, and the first official celebration was held in 1836 thanks to the Norwegian Parliament. Since then, it has been considered the National Day of Norway.

Observing Constitution Day In Norway

For many people, this holiday is one that’s centered on children. There are children’s processions composed of local school classes marching through their neighborhoods, featuring many of the children waving Norwegian flags. Other events held on this day include games and festivals, theater shows and movie showings, and other special events.

Where is it celebrated?
Norway (National holiday, flag day)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 17 Friday
Next year (2025)
May 17 Saturday
Last year (2023)
May 17 Wednesday