May 17

Another reason to dissolve the union between Norway and Sweden: You can only have so many hot blonde girls in one country before it grinds to a halt. So to speak.

Today is May 17th, Norway’s national day. Since I live in Norway – and indeed have never left the country even for a brief visit – I have the day off from work. It is kind of like a holy day, except for the holiness. Old people even go to church. New people are mostly atheists so only go to church on Christmas Eve or weddings, burials etc, but some of the most nationalist may possibly tag along to church today as well.

Norwegian nationalism is pretty tame, actually. You’d think not, given that we have twice turned down membership in the European Union, by referendum no less. Although the majority was somewhat less than in the referendum about continued union with Sweden, in 1905, when only 184 souls voted for continued union! (Of course, democracy was still pretty new by then and the whole “anonymous” voting was perhaps not fully implemented… not to mention the voting locales being decorated with Norwegian flags, stuff like that.)

That said, Norwegians like independence, but we don’t like attacking and occupying other nations. We’ll tag along when allies get involved in a war, but we would rather stay at home if we could. We haven’t even gotten back the couple provinces that Sweden kept when the union was dissolved. But we’ve bought a lot of the property there, and probably most of the booze.

Oh, right. We kind of just kept the land of the Sami, the reindeer-herding people up north, which we had annexed during the union years. But it was either that or let the Russians have them, Russia was really trying to expand back in the days. In recent years, the Sami have some token independence. I suspect if they really, really wanted full independence from Norway, they could have it. It is not like the area runs a surplus, exactly: It is mostly arctic tundra, or nearly so. If you don’t like reindeer or midnight sun, you are unlikely to have any errands there.

Of course, Norway enjoys a similar status in Europe as a whole. Except we also have mountains. Lots and lots of mountains. With reindeer on them. Plus Germans in particular tend to die easily here. They are just not used to nature being, you know, untamed. Mountains you fall down from, rivers that throw you off into a waterfall, seas with big waves, roads with sudden bends, things like that. I think more Germans than Norwegians may lose their lives to Norwegian nature some years, even though we live here all the time and they only visit as tourists, and then bring their own beer. (I am not sure to what extent the beer contributes to the casualties…)

Anyway, one more thing, although I have said it in earlier years at this time: May 17 is not actually our Independence Day. That is June 7, 1905. May 17, 1814 is our Constitution day. The logic seems to be that it does not matter whose king you have, as long as you have your own laws. And that is probably the truth. Just look at the Jews. They got their laws thousands of years ago and will probably still be a people of their own as long as there are humans on Earth. Hopefully that will be a long time yet.