The parade must go on

“The Ladies of Lydvo” reclaim 17. mai


NATIONAL ANTHEM: A sing-along to “Ja, vi elsker” in the sun. Just after this photo was taken, rain started pouring down.

Voss, Norway


AFTER PARADE: Everyone hurried home after the parade to avoid the rain.

The little neighborhood of Lydvo in Voss didn’t accept that 17. mai was canceled in 2020 and put on their own miniature version of it. This year, they’ve opted for the same solution.

“The kids think 2020 was the most fun 17. mai celebration they’ve ever had, and we adults also had a great time,” says Olaug Margrete Lid. She is a resident in the little neighborhood Lydvo in the town Voss, an hour and a half from Bergen.

Voss is known for its strong bunad tradition, and almost everybody has one. The 17th of May is normally a day when everybody is out in the streets in their costumes celebrating. But in 2020, 17. mai, like so many other things, got completely canceled. Many people remember May 17, 2020, as an empty and dull day, just like many days have been during the last year.

Started planning two days ahead

The women in Lydvo have a little club that meets regularly for dinners and other fun activities. And they simply could not accept that 17. mai got canceled. The ladies took the celebration into their own hands.


PARADE: Police officer Per Gunnaer Thrane led the parade from Lydvo. The neighborhood also had their own “russ” graduating class join the parade.

“We started thinking that we should do something fun, just for us here in Lydvo. We are a small neighborhood, and we would be outdoors, so everything was okay. I remembered we sat down on the Friday night before 17. mai and planned a bit for this year’s celebration. Then we found out that we had to have our own flag and, not least, our own spirit,” said Lid, who, among others, has been responsible for the organization.

The “Ladies of Lydvo”

Thus, Villa Drønen sat down on Saturday, May 16, and made a big flag with the text “Madammene på Lydvo” (The ladies of Lydvo).


STANDING TALL: It may be challenging for the littles ones, but walking on stilts is a typical—and fun—game played on 17. mai.

“A beautiful flag that we are so proud of!” said Lid.

There were just less than 50 people who showed up for the celebration. In addition to the special-made flag, and flag-bearers with the Norwegian flag, Lydvo also had a police officer, who walked in front of the parade. The parade started in Lydvo and ended up on the lawn outside Voss Folkehøgskule, with plenty of space for a sing-along of the national anthem.

“In the street at Lydvo there were also some russ [students celebrating their graduation]. It was very nice to have so many turn up, and not the least that the russ wanted to be with us. They created a good atmosphere,” Lid recalls.

PRIZES: The kids admire the lottery grand prizes—the traditional fruktkurv or fruit basket.

Fun and games

After the parade, the families went home to eat and then met up again in the afternoon for 17. mai games. Traditionally, school-age children gather at their schools in the afternoon of 17. mai for these kinds of games. But in Lydvo, everybody could join, and both adults and kids had a great time.

“The kids thought it was the most fun 17. mai celebration they had been to. So now the question is whether we will carry on these traditions next year,” said Lid to the local newspaper Hordaland in 2020.

Now, it is clear that it will be same program this year.

17 mai

CHEER: Olaug Lid let out an enthusiasti cheer when she was a winner in the lotttery. In the background, Villa Drønen, who made the main flag for the parade, is seen.

A community of its own

“We are like a little community here at Lydvo. Everyone knows everyone, and such celebrations makes us know each other even better. We had a great time together and had a successful celebration in spite of the situation. We hope that we will have a new success this year!”

She admits she had a very peaceful celebration last year, compared to the usual high intensity 17. mai in the town center.

“We have everything here at Lydvo, a lot of children, our own russ, and we have our own police. We will have parade, games, and a bazaar. Everyone will get a ticket, and everyone will get a prize, so we look forward to a new local 17. mai celebration with no stress,” says Lid.

This article originally appeared in the May 7, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Ingerid Jordal

Ingerid Jordal is a photojournalist based in western Norway, with a great passion for the deep north and stories of belonging. She is scared of flying, but not scared of driving backward on a highway in Seattle. Learn more at