– It’s because Norway has a birthday! said NRK profile Fantorangen (known from “Barne-TV” and “Maskorama”) to presenter Nadia Hasnaoui during the May 17 show this year on the state channel – when asked if she knew why we celebrate on May 17.
But apparently not everyone agrees with the popular felt stitch.
In a congratulatory video posted on social media Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) says the following about the national holiday:
– This day is a day of celebration. Some call it the anniversary of the country, but in fact it is the anniversary of the constitution.
Dagbladet immediately glimpsed the contours of a debate with profound consequences for the effective understanding of the origins of the kingdom.
Is May 17 really “Norway’s birthday”?
Who is right, the Prime Minister or the Fantorange?
– They’re both kinda right. That’s the boring answer. May 17 is the date of incorporation. The text of the constitution was completed on May 16, and many of those who signed it did not complete it until May 18. But they picked a date, and it was May 17th. It is written on the last page of the constitution: “Works of Eidsvoll, May 17, 1814”.
– I had to choose a date
So says Bård Frydenlund, historian and museum director. Eidsvoll 1814in Dagbladet.
– May 17 is the birthday of modern Norway, at least we can say that. This is not to depreciate medieval and Viking-age Norway already in the 8th century, but “modern Norway’s birthday” – that’s absolutely correct.
– But is it really correct to say that May 17 is “the anniversary of the constitution” if the constitution was finalized the day before?
– No, some think that it is in fact May 16 which is the anniversary of the constitution. But then there’s this thing about dating. We had to choose a date, and it was the 17th that remained. This is what is written in the document which was signed – it is a date accepted by the elected men. This makes it legit.
– So Fantorangen and the Prime Minister are basically right – but both are also slightly wrong?
– Yes. Can you say that. The Prime Minister may be undermining something of the wider national dimension by saying it’s ‘only’ Constitution Day – while Fantorangen is probably hitting it a bit too hard by calling it ‘Norway’s birthday “, says Frydenlund.
– But on a holiday like May 17, both are also allowed, he adds.
The widest voting right in Europe
The constitution was radical and “very modern” by 1814 standards, insists Frydenlund.
– Contemporary times taken into account, and taken into account that we were, after all, in a corner of Europe. We had lived in a dictatorship that said one thing: that only the king of Copenhagen reigns, everyone is subordinate, he said.
Political freedoms in Denmark-Norway were limited to absolute necessities such as property rights, argues Frydenlund.
– Freedom of expression, for example, should relate to what the king said at a given time. The big break took place in 1814, with a radical constitution of its own, specifies the historian.
The constitution granted the right to vote to all male citizens over the age of 25 – with certain reservations. In the cities, it applied to officials, merchants and those who possessed goods of a certain value, according to The Storting’s website.
In the countryside, it applied to all men who owned or rented registered farms, and therefore paid state tax, according to UiO History of Norway website.
The right to vote applied to all government officials – and to no women. Likewise, it was the widest in Europe in 1814.
The former royal throne of Norway
Despite the fact that they all functioned as midwives in the birth of modern Norway, the Eidsvollmen also consciously tied themselves to the Norway that existed before the union with Denmark.
Frydenlund quotes professor and politician Georg Sverdrup – who was a member of the Constitutional Commission and chaired it on 17 May.
– After the election of the King of Norway, he said: “In other words, before the Enemærks of Norway, the old royal throne of Norway was erected, which Nobles and Sverrer covered, and from which they ruled old Norway with wisdom and power.” He says in a way: “The restoration of old Norway is now complete”.
Frydenlund points out that there are many understandings of What Norway is, and many opinions about how the origins of the country should be dated.
– The Battle of Hafrsfjord, the Battle of Stiklestad. There are many who want to say: “It was SO! It is THE which is Norway”. It’s hard to say – it’s medieval Norway, old Norway. But it’s not the Norway we have today. .
Given the understanding of the Norwegian nation (where both Jonas Gahr Støre and Fantorangen live) that most people operate with today, one should get away with both “constitution day” and “l Norway’s birthday,” said Frydenlund.
– You have to be able to send it to a large audience, and then I also think that you have to be able to afford to do pocket mail. At least it’s indoors if you go down to kindergarten level, he says.
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