May 17th is our national day, Constitution day. In memory of the signing of the Constitution in 1814 (on the 17th, as you may have guessed..). You can find a detailed (and rather boring, but very factual) description of it here. A lighter version, with photos right here! But basically it's celebrating how we broke free from the Danes after about 400 years of them ruling us, and conveniently not celebrating how we at the same time entered into a union with the Swedes.. (That ended in 1905 though, there was much ado about that last year!)
From about 1860 or so the national day has been celebrated with lots of flags, ice cream, cakes, hot dogs children's games and, not least, children's parade. Every school has a marching band, and schools most places parade alone or in twos and (like here) with kindergartens. In Oslo there are lots of schools going together, marching past the royal palace, where the royal family are out on the balcony waving at their subjects for four or five hours... (Incidentally, I think all Norwegians own their own flags, and waving them or putting them up outside your house is not considered nationalist behavious, unlike e.g. in Sweden. We do that on birthdays, flagdays, happy days, for funerals etc.)
The photos at the right are from breakfast one 17th at my friends' house - the date spelled out with bread and rolls - before my married life began... In the middle - some friends in national costumes, "bunad", I'm not there, but I've got the same kind as the three in the middle. Further down, tiny photo, me and S in front of the palace - passing it at least three times by infiltrating the children's parade was our least effort in the years after moving south... Last photo is M, on the left, for once keeping her eyes open when being photographed..
Further down: quite a few years back... Me with a friend, me with my big sister, me with plastic trumpet, me smiling bravely in that dreadful headscarf... I was only 4 1/2, it wasn't my fault!
Anyway. It's a lot of ironing shirts and keeping clothes nice until the parade starts, a lot of waving and shouting hip-hip-hooray! while parading, a lot of eating, generally, going on all day. And unless you're having a barbecue with family and / or friends at night, actually a rather boring afternoon ahead, but not so this year, Champions league final was on :)