Jeg onsker dere alle, “GOD SYTTENDE MAI!”*
May 17, 2012 5 Comments
All across the upper Midwest today, and wherever else we have roamed, you’ll hear the phrase above. It’s important to us, it’s also a good reason to drink Aquavit, one of the few good things we got from the Swedes. You see, as all the Ole’s and Lena’s know, the 17th of May is Norwegian Constitution Day, celebrated here and at home as well.
Many people mistake it for Norwegian Independence day which it is not.
On May 17, 1814, after ratification by the national assembly organized by the independence movement on May 16, the new CONSTITUTION for NORWAY was signed. The reality that this CONSTITUTION came in context with a very strong movement in NORWAY for INDEPENDENCE from SWEDEN. Unable to gain international support forced NORWAY after a short war to negotiate with SWEDEN. NORWAY was allowed to keep its own CONSTITUTION, but had to accept the KING OF SWEDEN as its monarch. For more historical information and perspective, read, “Constitution of Norway” in Wikipedia.
So we were stuck with loyalty to the Swedish Crown until 1905. It was never all that popular but Norwegians being rather stolid we soldiered on, and in good time…
This meant that NORWAY was subservient to SWEDEN under the KING of SWEDEN. The vision of and movement for INDEPENDENCE continued and was AT LONG LAST brought to fruition on June 7, 1905 when, having revoked the Constitutional amendments which ended the “personal union” with the King of Sweden, the NORWEGIAN PARLIAMENT took action to create an INDEPENDENT NORWAY with its own KING. This is a very complicated and interesting process with democratic ideas and processes pressing the whole process.
NORWAY did gain its own KING! The Parliament invited Prince Carl of Denmark to become KING. Understanding the NORWEGIAN movement toward democracy, he said he would consider becoming the KING only after a REFERENDUM of the PEOPLE of NORWAY to vote on whether they wanted a REPUBLIC or a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY.
The PEOPLE of NORWAY voted 79% for the CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY. Prince Carl accepted election as KING of NORWAY. He and his family came to NORWAY. He was the MORE popular when he chose the historic name of NORWEGIAN kings, “HAAKON” and became King Haakon VII of Norway. King Haakon VII took the OATH as monarch on November 25, 1905 – 2 days after he arrived in Norway from Denmark. King Haakon VII was crowned KING of NORWAY at NIDAROSDOMEN (the cathedral in Trondheim) on June 22, 1906. Again, there are numerous interesting facets of the whole process, so I encourage you to read more in Wikipedia, “Haakon VII of Norway.”
I suppose I could add here that my mother’s family is from Trondheim, the ancient capital, while my father’s is from Oslo, the current capital.
I read a story, which I believe to be true, that when during World War Two, King Haakon VII was holding court, in exile in Scotland, a young man, a member of the Resistance, who had been injured by the Germans and escaped, was brought to the King. At the door, he straightened up and despite grievous injuries to his leg, walked without a limp to the King. Afterward he remarked that, “A man does not limp while his legs are the same length”. Such is the Heritage we have carried down from the Sagamen of the Viking age. And such is our reverence for freedom, independence, and written constitutions. We waited 90 years for a King of our own, who says perseverance, and steadfastness doesn’t pay.
O Valdres, O Valdres, thou home in our hearts.
For immigrant families, an ocean apart.
Your valleys and mountains with lofty peaks high,
The mem’ries we cherish tho’ years have gone by;
O Valdres, your beauty is seen by day’s light,
Queen of the Valleys, a beacon at night.
For you now, O Norge, our hands cross the sea,
We all join together in one family.
Our homeland forever, our homage we give,
From all distant shores wherever we live,
O Norge, you call us from all walk of life,
In peace, love and joy, our hearts now unite.
* I wish YOU ALL, “Good 17th of May!”
- The National Day of Norway – Post 1 (cardinalguzman.wordpress.com)
- The National Day of Norway – Post 2 (cardinalguzman.wordpress.com)
- Norwegian Constitution Day (genealyn.wordpress.com)
- 17 of May Down under (vibekejohannessen.com)
- Thousands to converge on Ballard for Syttende Mai festivities (ballardnewstribune.com)