Heart Choices: Norwegian Independence Day -->

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Norwegian Independence Day

Today is Norwegian Independence Day. It's called Syttende Mai or seventeen May in Norwegian.

Many of you may not care about this date but since ALL of my relatives are Norwegian, it was a big deal growing up in the Sumstad household.

Both sets of grandparents came to the US from Norway and settled in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. That was where both of my parents were born. At that time, it was like living in Little Norway.

Every year on this very important Norwegian holiday, the Brooklyn streets closed down for the big celebration. A huge parade with flying Norwegian flags was a sight to behold.

Of course, you could find all of the traditional Norwegian foods and crafts such as rosemaling (a type of painting), hardanger (needlework) and many little trolls.

My parents were very active in the Sons of Norway organization. Even when they moved to Florida in the early 70's, they continued their involvement. My dad was the lodge president for many years and mom was the musician. She played the piano for all their events.

My parents did Norwegian folk dancing. I have to admit that they taught us to do a few of the dances when we were kids. I think I could still do the Norwegian polka and another one called something like the shotish (sp?). I'm sure my Norwegian friends will be able to correct that one. LOL.

Here's a photo of my mom in her bunad. This is a traditional Norwegian costume and they vary according to the home town. Each area in Norway has a different bunad. My mom was always so proud of hers and loved to wear it for Syttende Mai.

I know that in Norway, the celebration is even bigger. They celebrate Norway's independence after a 500 year union with Denmark and the signing of their Constitution.

I still like to remember this date each year. Maybe I'll make some Norwegian waffles. My husband Greg has grown to love them too. And he doesn't mind hearing "uff da" every once in a while.

I'll end with the Norwegian anthem which is called "Ja vi elsker". I hope you enjoy the beautiful Norwegian scenery in this video.

Debbie Petras
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  1. Dear Debbie,
    Thank you for being such a worthy representative for our beloved Norway.
    I hope you have inherited one of your mother's bunads.
    They present the best of Norwegian folk traditions.
    We are all celebrating today. In every little township there's a parade.
    In think the Sons of Norway have moved their New York Parade to Manhattan lately.
    Times changes.
    Our Royal Family have been saluting children for four hours from the Royal Palace Balcony.
    They are loved by the entire nation.
    I think everybody should plan their Norwegian visit around 17th of May.
    Our country in its most beautiful flower dress and The parades with flags hurraying children, bunads and hardly a policeman in sight.
    It's our independence and constitution we are celebrating of all our hearts.
    I salute you as is the costum in Norway:
    "Gratulerer med dagen."
    From Felisol

  2. This is a lovely tribute to your roots. I loved the House of Sweden at the International Cottages in San Diego.

  3. Hi Debbie, What a great post on your heritage and traditions of your family. Roots can be such an important part of who we are. What a great tribute to your mom and dad as well.
    Have a blessed day!
    Hugs, Noreen

  4. Hi Sweet Debbie,

    That is beautiful! Thank you for sharing about your heritage my friend.

    Love you,

  5. I think I mentioned before that I'm Norwegian too. My grandparents came over from Norway and lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn too. Their last name was Syvertsen, my grandmom was Sorensen before getting married. Loved this post! I showed the video to my dad and he loved it! Thanks for keeping the tradition alive!

  6. Such a beautiful tribute my friend.

  7. Wow! That's very nice of you, Debbie to look back^-^ this post indeed is a great tribute to your roots! thanks for sharing such wonderful tradition^-^ it's such a treasure of one's identity. Your parents and your ancestors are so proud of you!

  8. Even thought I couldn't understand the words, the singing was beautiful. The scenery was breath-taking. I've always wanted to go to Norway, and this has increased that desire. Have you been there to visit family?

    I think it is good for people to honor their ethnic roots with festivals like your parents go to. The customs, faith, practices and genetic lines of the "old country" made them the people they are today. Why not recognize that? More genuine appreciation for our own cultural and ethnic heritage might make us more appreciative of the ethnic identity of other people.

    Good story.


I love to read your comments! I know you have something to share so join in the conversation. And thank you for taking the time.

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