Wow, we are already through one week of BootsnAll‘s 30 Days of Indie Travel Project.* I hope you have enjoyed the posts so far!
The theme for Day 7 is celebrations.
Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.
Being of Norwegian heritage, my trip to Norway five years ago was a big deal. Not only did I want to learn more about the homeland of my ancestors and gain an insight into Norwegian culture, but I planned to actually visit the town where my great-great-great grandparents once lived.
As an added bonus, I timed my trip so I was in Norway on May 17 – Constitution Day. This marks the day in 1814 when Norway signed its constitution and became an independent nation. I would say it is sort of the equivalent of the Fourth of July in the United States. Norwegians across the country gather for children’s parades, often wearing traditional dress known as a bunad.
The day is also a day of celebration for high school seniors (known as russ) in Norway – they stay up all night and have their own parades later in the day, after the children’s parades. They also wear special outfits consisting of what look like painter’s pants splashed with graffiti (at first I thought it was just a really bad fashion trend until someone explained to me why they were dressed like that).
I was in the city of Trondheim on Constitution Day, where they also had a “citizen’s parade” which included firefighters, members of sports clubs and other associations. The result was an entire day full of parades and celebrations. Beginning mid-morning, the streets were packed with people and those who were not watching or participating in the parades flocked to one of Trondheim’s biggest attractions, Kristiansten Fortress, to picnic.
I did a little of both, watching the morning parades, then walking over to Kristiansten and finally heading back into the city for the afternoon parades. Everything I saw was a matter of chance as I really had no idea what was going on. I just sort of followed the crowds. As a spectator, I just tried to soak it all in and enjoy the glimpse into a Norwegian tradition. I think the thing that struck me the most was the sense of national pride and how the holiday maintained its meaning. – something I don’t think is necessarily the case in the United States on the Fourth of July.
*Throughout the month of November, BootsnAll is inviting bloggers from around the world to join them in a daily blogging effort – the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project – designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.