From my family archives…A personal acknowledgment of “Syttende Mai” on the 200th anniversary of independence….
For Norwegians, the 17th of May (“Syttende Mai”) is known as the Norwegian Independence Day and as the Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day). 200 years ago today, on May 17th of 1814, Norway’s constitution was signed at Eidsvoll, marking the country’s birth as an independent nation from Swedish rule. Of note, Norway is said to have the world’s second oldest constitution in continual force. Who knew? Every year, on the 17th of May or “Syttende Mai”, the event is proudly celebrated across the country.
Since I was a young child this day was always memorable in our family. My upbringing was always surrounded by links to our Norwegian ancestry. My faint but poignant recollections of my Norwegian grandparents remain a part of the fabric of this day. Having separately immigrated from Lyngdal and Stavanger, Norway to the United States in 1927, my grandparents met and settled in Chicago, Illinois in 1929. Chicago had at the time a large Norwegian settlement in which yearly held a large Syttende Mai parade in Humboldt Park on the west side of Chicago. In 1936, this iconic and treasured family image was captured. Iconic moments of the past, for certain.
For those that share my Norwegian heritage or those that share the appreciation of history, “Happy Syttende Mai”. 200 years of independence. A celebration of history and a personal acknowledgment, indeed…