By Chloe Ellefson, Historic Site Curator
From the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries
By Kathleen Ernst
If you have a drop of Norwegian blood, you know what May 17th is: Syttende Mai, or Constitution Day. Since both of my parents are directly descended from immigrants from Norway, I have a whole lot of Norwegian blood. And in my family, Syttende Mai is a big deal.
The whole thing started when the Constitution of Norway was signed on May 17th, 1814.
|17th of May, 1893, by Christian Krohg.|
I grew up in Stoughton, Wisconsin. My mother, Marit all-things-Norwegian Kallerud, did her best to raise my sister and me with Norwegian traditions. I can make krumkakke with the best of them, and I danced with a folk group all through high school.
|High school dancers in Decorah, IA.|
To be honest, I often roll my eyes a bit at my mom's dedication to her Norwegian activities and groups. But I have to admit, it would be strange if I didn't do something to celebrate Syttende Mai.
May 17th also makes me think a lot about the whole notion of ethnic identity. I mean, I'm an American, generations removed from the Old Country. It's great to learn about my ancestors' experiences and stories, but most of the time it all seems far away.
|Celebration in Seattle. (Wikipedia)|
It's even helped me solve a murder or two.
But those are stories for another day. Right now, I'm off to celebrate. And don't worry. You don't have to be of Norwegian descent to enjoy a good Syttende Mai party. All are welcome.
|Children's parade in Decorah, IA.|
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To learn more about this award-winning series, see Kathleen's website.