Children are the focal point of Constitution Day on May 17 each year, founded to celebrate the creation of the Constitution of Norway.

May 17 Norway's National DayIn preparation, parents sew traditional folk costumes called bunad — pronounced boo-ned. Each large fjord or valley has a distinctive style and the design and colors vary according to locality.

Ineke’s is an elaborately embroidered full-length skirt, a long-sleeve white blouse, a matching embroidered jacket and new shoes adorned with silver buckles. The pewter collar brooch and pewter belt buckle were adornments on the bunad her mother wore as a child.

Ineke’s great grandmother sewed the embroidered waist purse by hand. The floral embroidery on the her new folk costume matches the traditional family pattern on the purse.

All over Norway, children’s parades are formed by the elementary school teachers. Hundreds of Norwegian flags flutter in the brisk ocean breezes. Marching bands lead the procession of children through the community, often making stops at homes of senior citizens or historical points of interest. As the parade passes, bystanders join in behind the children, carrying more flags, and follow the parade back to the school.

Back at the school, there are games for the children, and often lots of ice cream, sweets and pølse, Norwegian sausages on buns covered with mustard.

Nels and Ineke walked hand in hand every year.

Excerpt from novel: Nazi’s try to prevent the parade

“Wearing their best bunad, and with Norwegian flags waiving brightly in the midday sun, the children turn bravely from a side street onto Kongens Gate, the main street through Narvik.  Julia, Sigrid and all the other teachers are at the head of the parade, not at the rear, as is the custom.  The teachers have resisted everything the Nazis try to impose on the schools and they intend to resist today as well.

“Armed German troops have formed a line blocking the parade route. Marching bands stir the crowds as the soldiers wait for the marchers.  Approaching the German line, Julia takes Sigrid’s hand and squeezes it tightly. She raises their clenched hands in defiance and pushes the soldiers out of their way without stopping.

“Hault!” the German commander yelled holding up his pistol. Again, “Hault.” No one stopped. The commander tried again in Norwegian, “Slutte. Slutte.”

“Nels put Ineke behind him to protect her. I will kill you if you touch her.

“Approaching the German line, Nels’s mother looked back at the nervous children, and their parents along the street, as if to say don’t worry. She took Sigrid’s hand and raised their clenched fists in defiance, pushing their way past the soldiers without stopping. The Germans did nothing.

“Nels’s stomach fluttered with delight. He was proud to be a Norwegian and, for a moment, felt fearless in the presence of the troops.

“The teachers lead the defiant procession through town and back to school, where the residents gathered around them cheering and shouting, “Skol! Skol!”

Add a trip to Narvik to your Bucket List

Q: If you live in an igloo made of snow, what’s the worst thing about global warming?

A: No privacy!

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