May celebration

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The 17th of May is our national day, the day we got our constitution (17th May 1814). There are parades with schoolchildren and school bands playing brass music, all over the country. In big cities and on the countryside. Prior to this day there was a big discussion about our flag, and about nationalism: is it good, is it bad? Some think this is bad in a modern world. And Norway has now one of the fastest growing population in Europe, thanks to immigration. Personally I think we have a challenge when there are more immigrants than there are children born. Because the changes are happening so fast. Others want no discussion, it is not a topic.The Swedish author Henrik Arnstad even claimed that Norway is characterized by extreme nationalism – and are therefore particularly susceptible to fascist ideas. Claims that were well contradicted by the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, among others.

We also had a big discussion about a school with school children from all around the world who wanted to use flags from a lot of countries in their 17the May parade. I don’t want a flag ban. I just agree with those who say that our flag is an important symbol. We are a small country and it is nice to be able to celebrate freedom, democracy and our constitution. Together. Hopefully it will last. And I hope for peace and freedom in countries were this simply does not excist. More pictures from out national day on this link.

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37 thoughts on “May celebration

  1. Bente, this is a very complicated issue! In the US, this discussion has been going on for awhile because of the rise in the non-white population. Much is due to immigration, and some of that is due to immigration done without papers. I live two blocks from Mexico and some mornings I can sit in my yard and watch undocumented people run from hidden spot to hidden spot. Sometimes they are not even wearing shoes! Imagine crossing the desert with no shoes.
    I see both sides, but most often, I see the side of the poor immigrant running with no shoes.

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    1. Very complicated indeed, and difficult to find the right answers and solutions. But even difficult subjects needs to be discussed and reflected upon. I try to imagine how it is to cross a desert without shoes. It is hard. There are so many sad stories in this world.

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  2. Having all the other flags there on your national holiday is like having a birthday party for the child born on a particular day and then having all the invited guests wanting to celebrate their birthdays at that child’s party.
    I think that without national pride a country would slide into apathy. If we’re not proud of who we are or what we represent, why bother to strive for improvement and accomplishment? It doesn’t mean we have to go to war to prove anything. Pride is good and it isn’t necessarily the same thing as arrogance.

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    1. I agree about pride, and about the possibility of apathy if there is no pride. But all this is about finding the right balance, and it is not always easy. Thanks Anneli.

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  3. i have spent time in many latin american countries, and i think that one should honor the flag of the adopted country and not another country of birth. it seems insensitive and ungrateful. my own country’s flag could proudly wave at my home as if to say, “i come from here and am not ashamed of my country,” but in public, deference to that country’s flag seems the most respectful gesture.

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  4. I agree with Playamart-Zeebra Designs completely! However being of Norwegian ancestry (third generation – both sides) I’m happy to be so very happy for you! 🙂 Congratulations! And the photographs are beautiful!

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  5. I intentionally go against your grain.
    So-called freedom, human right etc. are just a political leverage. There is no such things in reality.
    Why some were born to be more able and pretty and gain more ? etc. etc. —– people just look for
    a point to get compensation money. (if no one to ask compensation, they just accept. 😀 )

    The nation was formed in a place where the same kind joint together to live their kind of life.
    Of cause, still not all the people are exactly the same, thence Politics, Democracy etc. has come to play.
    Freedom to live anywhere, while been equal etc etc, sound beautiful though, the trade off is also big.
    Still, some people think this trade-off as a discrimination.
    As a human born to be a Japanese —– does it mean, I was entitled to claim the same Japanese life in here ? Joking !
    Still, some people using its trade-off to get more compensation. = of cause, its creates repercussion and
    make the people more sensitive to “Who is the same-kind” = lead to wrong nationalism.
    Simply, use common sense. And be reasonable. = Don’t ask too much.

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    1. I know, Yoshi, the world is not fair. But as humans we should and could try to make it better, more fair, even if it is just a tiny, tiny bit. I agree about common sense. I’ll try not to ask to many questions….

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  6. I believe the discussions on nationalism and immigration will never recede.anywhere in the world. Nationalism is like a double-edged sword, when it’s used by the wrong people the results can be fatal. Anyway, Happy National Day, Bente!

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  7. Lovely photos.
    I think that only Norwegian flags should be raised on Norway’s National Day. Surely it’s a day of celebration and Nationalistic Pride in one’s own country. I agree with ‘Playamart’s’ comment entirely.
    (I couldn’t imagine any flags other than the Australian Flag and the Indigenous Aboriginal Flag being raised on our Australia Day). When we have a Thai festival, then the Thai flag can be raised. When we have a Dutch festival, then the Dutch flag and colours are celebrated & so on….

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  8. I have retired to France, like many British people do, to enjoy the many advantages of living in France. It has taken me a long time to learn the language, to integrate into my community and I continue to increase my knowledge of the culture, literature and history of the country I live in. Some people live isolated, accepting only the benefits, I would be too ashamed to do that.

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  9. It can be a terribly divisive debate, can’t it? As somebody who’s pretty ambivalent about nationalism in general, I find myself torn in different directions, but it seems to me that if one chooses to leave one’s country of birth to live in another country, one should honour one’s host country by adopting its’ ways – and that includes its’ flag.

    But more beautiful than flags, and universal – the flowers of springtime! Peace and happiness to you all on this special day in Denmark 🙂

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  10. Here in the U.S. we have the ultimate multi-cultural society – it’s what we are. And I feel so fortunate that my Norwegian grandparents chose to come here to find a better life, if not for themselves – for their children and their grandchildren (my generation). But I feel sad that, in so many countries, their unique cultural heritages are changing due to the influx of people who bring their cultures and values which, for so many reasons, don’t often mix well with the existing culture, which can lead to unforseen conflicts. I hope that Norway can find a way to deal with that. I know that none of us can stop change, nor would we want to. But I hope that Norway doesn’t forget it’s unique culture and it’s independence for which it longed for so many hundreds of years.
    All of the communities I’ve lived in here in the U.S. during my 70+ years have been heavily Scandinavian – Northwestern Montana, Minnesota, and Seattle – and I can tell you that the traditions still survive here. Today in Seattle we had the annual Sytende Mai parade – one of the largest in the U.S. We’re still waving our flags!

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  11. Fina bilder och intressant att läsa, men extremhögern finns mest troligtvis i de allra flesta länderna, ofta unga män som “hjärntvättas” i tonàren av äldre, att vara en sökande individ kan vara en svaghet i vissa kretsar och man finner oftast en gemenskap, rasism lindas först in i ljuva ord, sen hyvlar man sakta av ytan… Nej, Sverige är inte bättre än Norge, bara en annorlunda form av rasism… Men jag bor ju i Frankrike, Front National med Marine Le Pen i spetsen vinner terräng idag, mycket tack vare den europeiska ekonomiska krisen och hon är advokat, det innebär att hon vet hur hon ska tala till folk i olika yrken…

    Hoppas att du hade en bra nationaldag, om ett par veckor Sveriges nationaldag, som jag inte firar längre, det blir faktiskt den franska… Men jag kommer nog att skriva om den svenska nationaldagen…

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  12. De diskussioner der er i Norge, de er også i Danmark
    fordi uanset hvor meget vi driller hinanden så ligner vi jo hinanden… 🙂 😉

    Jeg tror på at vores værdier og vores grundlove sagtens overlever udfordringerne
    – præcist fordi de bliver udfordret, dermed er de lyslevende … 🙂

    Flotte billeder og tillykke… 🙂 😉

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  13. I agree with wordsfromannali.
    I live in the U.S.A. and although the people here say we’re all immigrants, it’s not true. American Indians were here well before the “New World” was discovered. No one mentions the fact that we pushed these mostly friendly peoples into ‘reservations’ and (as the story goes) got them drunk and bought the land for a shiney bead. This does not make me a Proud American.
    I also don’t understand if ” everyone wants to come to America for a better life”, why do the immigrants want to change it to reflect their home country?! In less than 50 years ‘they’ say the muslims will outnumber us 8 to 1 as us Americans are not breeding fast enough. They will vote their own people into government and this country will be completely different. I will be in the ground by then. Whew!

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  14. It is a very tricky issue Bente, one I usually steer clear of. At their heart, national celebration days are, as you say, supposed to be about celebrating culture and respecting people, but unfortunately political ideologies and complex social issues often lay waste to this simple concept and introduce unpleasant elements where respect is in short supply. Certainly in the UK brandishing the union jack is usually done by a person or people who are not feeling too kindly towards others and would like everyone to know it. In this respect the flag, which belongs to all citizens, has been hijacked (excuse the pun) by individuals or groups with political (usually right wing) views. This is why I would never display the union jack or any of the flags of the union because I don’t want to be part of the mob. Also I am not particularly proud to be British, nor am I ashamed. I simply don’t think it is that important, it just happens to be where I was born and where I live, and there are tremendous privileges that come with that incidental fact, which I am very aware of. The lovely saying “with every privilege comes responsibility” applies here quite well I think. Sorry to go on, you’ve no need to reply, thanks Bente 🙂

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  15. The day is about the constitution of the country Norway and not about other countries, despite where the people come from who live in Norway…. But indeed difficult discussion. so I just can say I like you’re flag ;-).

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  16. I think too that there should be no debate on the host country’s flag alone being honoured.
    Rather belated National Day wishes Bente 🙂

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  17. En flagga är en viktig symbol. En symbol att enas under, inte splittras av. Man måste väl få använda flaggan i landet man bor i??? Det finns liknande diskussioner här i Sverige. Förra året tog vi in drygt 110000 människor. Det är många.
    Har firat 17 mai i Norge en gång i mitt liv. Det var i Harstad. Det var kul! 😀 I Sverige är vi ganska dåliga på att fira vår nationaldag, särskilt om man jämför med hur norrmännen firar.
    Kram och allt gott till dej!

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  18. Mis felicitaciones por ese día de fiesta… y por ese pensar parejo: tiene su cara y cruz y la moneda gira siempre por el aire…
    Bonitas fotos. Saludos.

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