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Scream, Engelaug, Engelaug Vestre, Edvard Munch
17 mai, syttende mai, constitution day


Norway is known for its celebration of the national day on the 17th of May. We can see children dressed in national costumes waving the Norwegian flag and shouting HURRA !

Norwegian Constitution Day, is mainly the children´s day. Throughout the country children are parading to celebrate that Norway is an independent country. In contrast to many other countries that celebrate their constitution with military parades, the people of Norway have chosen to show their pride and hope for the future through their children.

In front of the parade you will find many large Norwegian flags, usually carried by scouts or older students. Most of the schools have their own school orchestra, playing great music in the parade. The children walk behind their school banners, shouting "Hurra for the 17th of May", blowing horns and singing national songs.

On 17 May 1814, the Norwegian Constitution was passed in Carsten Anker´s home in Eidsvoll, now known as the Eidsvoll Building.

An assembly of 112 men, statesmen, land owners, merchants, officers and farmers worked together to write the constitution of Norway, Europe´s oldest unbroken constitution.

The Eidsvoll Manor is therefor very imortant for the Norwegian history, and it is one of the most famous and wellknown buildings in Norway; exciting due of course to the historical events in 1814 but also because its significant architecture.

The Treaty of Kiel, 14 January 1814, was the background for the event. The King of Denmark, who was allied with Napoleon, was forced to relinquish control of Norway to Sweden.

This released great political activity in Norway, and an independence party made sure that the liberal constitution was passed to secure the powers of the Storting.

Meanwhile Sweden, supported by the big powers, forced the Norwegian politicians to co-operate and Norway had to enter the union with Sweden. The union lasted until 1905.

Today the building is a museum open to the public.


The legal basis of our form of government has long been far removed from topical interest: it does not constitute a political theme. When the wording of the Constitution still establishes that the executive power lies with the king, almost every schoolchild is aware that this means the king in Council, which again means the Government.

And when it is stated that the king chooses his Council, more than 100 years of constitutional common law have demonstrated that it is the Storting, through parliamentary procedures, that makes this choice.

To make doubly sure, the Constitution states that the king´s decisions must be countersigned in order to be valid, and that the responsibility for this rests not with him, but with his Council.

Norwegian democracy still gives no leeway for the exercising of personal, royal power. In a democratic monarchy the emphasis is on the Constitution, not on the monarch. Democracy can do without him, but not without the Constitution.