DECORAH, Iowa. (KTTC) – Across the pond, Norwegians are celebrated a patriotic holiday on Friday. On May 17th, in 1814, Norway ratified its constitution at Eidsvoll.
Celebrating Norwegian heritage runs deep in Decorah, Iowa. The Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center celebrates the holiday every year.
The town is known for its summer Nordic Fest and in the spring, Syttende Mai.
“A lot of people think Syttende Mai is like the U.S. Fourth of July,” Volunteer Coordinator of the museum Martha Griesheimer said.
It directly translates to the 17th of May, otherwise known as Norway’s constitution day. “In Norway, everybody has a day off for this holiday and they have parades in every town. lots of kids and things like that.”
Madsbech Pettersen is a foreign exchange student from Norway. His mother came to visit for his graduation and made in time for the holiday as well.
“You eat ice cream and drink pop and just have fun,” Pettersen said. “You walk in parades and wave flags.”
“We’ve been celebrating 15 or more years and we really feel its an important nod in the direction of Norway,” Griesheimer said. “This is a low key event that keeps in the spirit of Syttende Mai.”
The Vesterheim Museum also kept in the spirit by offering free admission all day Friday.
“To recognize what they’re doing over there and celebrate it in the same kind of way,” Griesheimer said. “So that’s why we always have the parade and Nordic dancers.”
Usually the Vesterheim has its own children’s parade with Nordic dancers, but was canceled due to weather.