17. mai, a day of celebrating and sharing

Gratulerer med dagen!

Photo: 17th of May Seattle The 17th of May has a long history in Seattle and the many communities where Norwegians settled.

Dear readers and friends,

By the time this message arrives in your mailbox, plans for celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day will be well underway everywhere friends of Norway are found. For Norwegian Americans, it is one of the most important and happy days of  the year. It’s a day when we celebrate those who came before us, who we are today, and all our hopes for future generations—all based on the solid principles set forth in the Norwegian Constitution that was signed in Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814. It’s a day of affirmation of all we believe in: freedom, democracy, opportunity, and equality.

For many years, I’ve had the honor of serving on the 17th of May Seattle Committee, a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. In 1889, before Washington became a state, Norwegian Constitution Day was first celebrated in Seattle. Since 1974 (with the exception of the pandemic years), there has been a parade in the historic Ballard neighborhood, where so many Norwegian immigrants settled. It is a tradition that means so much to so many, especially those of Norwegian-American descent.

But in recent years, I’ve come to realize that Norwegian Constitution Day is not only a day for Norwegian Americans but a special day for the entire community. While I love to see how Seattle’s Norwegian Americans come together in their colorful Norwegian sweaters and bunads, I think I love even more to see that other ethnic groups have joined in the festivities, both as participants in the parade, in cafés, bars, at the various Nordic community open houses, and, of course, with me and the musicians at Bergen Place Park.

It offers a chance to tell them about the Norwegian Constitution and the free and open society it has created and how we all share common values across the Atlantic. No one is excluded on the 17th of May, a day for celebrating and sharing. And remember, I will also be thinking about you on the 17th of May as I celebrate with my friends in Seattle. I hope you, too, will experience a day that is filled with laughter, fun, and meaning.

Send us your Syttende Mai photos

And then, I hope you will remember to have your cameras and phones in hand so that you can share memories of your day with us and our readers. As is tradition, we will be publishing a Syttende Mai photo section in our June 9 Midtsommer issue with your memories from coast to coast.

Please submit your photos to us via email with your full name, city, state, and brief description of the photo content, including any names. Send your email with the subject line “17th of May” by Friday, May 26. We can’t guarantee that we will publish every photo we receive, but we certainly will do our best.

Tusen takk

Finally, I have to say tusen takk to everyone who worked to make this special Syttende Mai issue come together.

First comes the staff here at The Norwegian American and our many contributors, who approach each issue with a renewed enthusiasm that shows. I cannot say too many times how lucky I am to work with such a dedicated team.

And then, of course, I want to thank all of you who have supported us with Syttende Mai greetings. For all of us here at the newspaper, it is so touching, so inspiring to receive this support. We truly appreciate all of our subscribers who help make this paper possible—you are our reason for being here.

Gratulerer med dagen!

Lori Ann

This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.