Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

17 May, 2012

Red, White and Blue

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I know I promised more Arkhosia today, but that was before I realised what the date was going to be. It is the 17th of May, the Norwegian Constitution Day, so instead of fictional history, I’m going to talk briefly about some real history instead.

On May 17th, 1814, the Norwegian Constitution was signed by the delegates charged with writing it, in the area of Eidsvoll. The constitution, modelled on the French and American examples, established Norway as a sovereign and independent nation, after 400 years of rule from Denmark – the declaration of independence had come only a few months earlier. It defined the role and powers of the king – a Danish prince who had his fingers all over this process – and of the national assembly, and in general went about re-establishing the nation.

The “sovereign and independent” thing didn’t really stick the first time around – Sweden invaded later the same year, as they had been promised Norway as part of the spoils of war following the defeat of Napoleon. The king of Sweden became also the king of Norway, but the constitution was allowed to remain in place, and Norway functioned as its own realm that just happened to share a monarch with its neighbour – all in all a big step up from the situation under Denmark. This union with Sweden lasted until 1905, but that’s a different day, less celebrated.

The constitution has been changed a fair bit over the years. Jews are no longer barred from the kingdom, the national assembly has been made unicameral, and women can now inherit the throne.  The next revision happens this very month, on the 21st , changing the role of the Church of Norway which will no longer be the official religion of the state. For reasons too depressing to get into here, the thing is written in Danish, and as it has been revised, new paragraphs have also been written in same-style Danish, making us one of two nations in the world to write our laws in an archaic language (the other one is the Vatican).

And on the 17th of May we throw a big celebration in honour of this curious document. In theory, at least. In practice, the constitution itself doesn’t get much airtime on Constitution Day, it’s more of a Norway-in-General Day. There are parades and flags and songs and enough patriotism to make a Texan blush. We really go nuts today. I have more than once seen foreigners remark on how weird it is to see such overt displays of outright nationalism, that somehow doesn’t have racism behind it. While I’m sure there are racists out there who seize the day for themselves, the mainstream celebration really is part of the whole PC culture the racists hate so much, and free of any malice. It’s a huge birthday party for the nation, and everyone gets together for hot dogs and ice cream.

I didn’t really have a point I wanted to make today, I just wanted to spin some thoughts around the day. Who know when the 17th will coincide with one of my update days again? To round it all off, here’s the national anthem of Norway, and the song that should be our national anthem as well.

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