As I was catching a bus down Elizabeth Street today, I cast my eyes towards Hyde Park and instantly recognised the Norwegian flag. I actually got off the bus one stop early, pressing the buzzer as if I was some kind of mad man. “Let me off”, I thought to myself, though I didn’t shout it out loud, such was my desire to find out as quickly as possible what was going on.
With less than two months until I’m actually in Norway, I’ve become quite attuned to all things Nordic. I heard the Swedish lilt in the accent of a waitress in a cafe where I bought a coffee this morning. I heard two women speaking Swedish on the bus the other week, and found myself able to basically understand their conversation. It wasn’t that interesting, by the way.
So what was happening in the park? Well it was Norwegian Constitution Day. WTF?
is the National Day of Norway and is an official national holiday each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth), Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day), although the latter is less frequent.
A crowd of about 200 had gathered. By the time I arrived, most of the activities were over, except for the egg and spoon races which, to be honest, I had never really associated with Norway. In stark contrast to St Patrick’s Day or Australia Day, no one seemed drunk. In walking over and listening in to some of the conversations, and taking a photograph, I can’t help but wonder if they thought I was some kind of Scando-freak. Of course, they could be right.