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Traditions abound as Mintra team helps Norway celebrate its special day

17 / 05 / 2021

There may not be crowds, huge celebrations or a party atmosphere on the streets, but even a global pandemic cannot dampen the spirits of the Mintra team as they celebrate the National Day of Norway.

It is the second year running that Covid-19 has forced celebrations for May 17 – the anniversary of the signing of Norway’s constitution as an independent kingdom in 1814 – to be scaled back with mass gatherings prohibited.

Our colleagues from across Norway will instead spend the special day with family but are hoping that parades will make a comeback in 2022. Among those wishing for a return to normality is Torbjørg Undem, who is manager for Mintra’s Trainingportal Marketplace.

Torbjørg plans to spend time with her parents and childhood best friend and even though it will be a very different atmosphere to the May 17 she had hoped for, she will ensure that some traditions remain.

Like many of her fellow country men and women, she will be donning her own national Norwegian dress – an outfit that has been handed down through generations of her family.

She explained: “It consists of a shirt, vest and a waistcoat with thousands of very small pearls that have been sewn on by hand. There is a skirt and a belt, which is also very special because it is leather and covered with silver buttons.

“To this I add some broaches and two decorated needles are used to fasten the cloth of the chest to the rest of the costume. The shirt was originally my aunt’s, the vest and waistcoat are from my grandmother on my father’s side: I cherish this as I never got to meet her as she died before I was born.

Torbjørg Undem in her traditional costume

“The belt is the one thing in the costume that is new, and I was gifted this from my parents. I have two other belts – one from my great grandmother and the other from my great, great grandmother – but these are so old dating back to the 1800s that I do not dare use them.

“Although we are not able to celebrate in the way that we would like, I will still be dressing up in the morning. My hope is that one day I will hand this costume on to my daughter and it will continue to be worn by future generations of our family.”

Different regions of Norway have their own variations of national dress, and the area that Torbjørg’s comes from is Hardanger. Normally, she would dress up in the morning and then watch local school children take part in a parade before enjoying lunch and taking part in activities with youngsters.

Teenagers then have their own parade later in the afternoon and this is followed by the largest procession of all, featuring a huge number of local sports clubs and organisations. Accompanied by music, the parade can last for anything up to two hours and it is all watched by large crowds who cheer and wave flags.

“It is a very special day for Norway, and it is celebrated all over the country. In Oslo there is usually a very large parade during which the royal family will come out to stand and watch on the balcony of the castle,” said Torbjørg.

“We live close to the coast and this year many small boat owners plan to have their own boat parade – it is just a shame that we are not allowed to stand and watch from the shore. We all hope that things will return to normal next year but until then we will celebrate the best that we can.”