Bjoerg Jahren Andersson. A.M.S.
Celebrating all things Norwegian
17 May: Norway's National Day

Celebrating all things Norwegian

Like St Patrick's Day in Ireland and Koningsdag (King's Day) in the Netherlands, Constitution Day in Norway is a popular holiday. For Norwegian Bjoerg Jahren Andersson, 72, of Nerja, the holiday is special

Alekk M. Saanders

Friday, 17 May 2024, 14:43

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Bjoerg Jahren Andersson left her homeland, Norway, in the 1970s. Since then she has lived in Sweden and now is enjoying life in Spain, although she pften goes to Norway to celebrate Constitution Day, the biggest national holiday in Norway.

Celebrations in Bjoerg's hometown. From Bjoerg's archive.
Imagen principal - Celebrations in Bjoerg's hometown.
Imagen secundaria 1 - Celebrations in Bjoerg's hometown.
Imagen secundaria 2 - Celebrations in Bjoerg's hometown.

“We call it simply Syttende Mai (which means 'Seventeenth of May'). This bank holiday marks the anniversary of the country's constitution, which was signed in 1814. It is a fun holiday for everyone, for people of all ages. Processions, people dressed in bunads (traditional folk costumes), and lots and lots of ice cream... Celebrating this day is a time for Norwegians to come together and express their pride in their country's rich history and culture. I especially like the so-called 'barnetoget' (children's parades), which first took place in 1870,” Bjoerg told SUR in English.

Officially, '17 May' has been celebrated in Norway since 1829. A break in the celebration occurred in the last century when Norway was occupied by Hitler's army. During the Second World War it was forbidden to participate in the parade on 17 May or to wear the colours of the Norwegian flag.

“After liberation on 8 May, 1945, the flag became an even stronger symbol of Norway's freedom and reinforced our desire to preserve our national identity. I was born just after the war. I remember the enthusiasm with which my parents celebrated this holiday. My generation also loves the 17 May. The secret of its popularity among all Norwegians lies in genuine feelings. The sincere pride comes from the depth of each citizen's soul. In my opinion, the idea of any holiday should come from people, not politicians. Take our neighbours for example. The established National Day in Sweden was received by the Swedes without much enthusiasm,” Bjoerg said.

"The secret of the 17 May popularity among all Norwegians lies in genuine feelings. The sincere pride comes from the depth of each citizen's soul"

Bjoerg Jahren Andersson

Bjoerg Jahren Andersson has a close connection with Sweden and the Swedes. She moved to Gothenburg in the 70s and started working in children's care. Soon she met her future husband Frank. In Sweden's cultural city, Bjoerg developed her talent as an actress and started performing in theatre. In 1996, the couple discovered Nerja as a holiday destination. Six years of constant visits passed until in 2012 the couple decided to buy a flat in the centre of Nerja. This moment coincided with Bjoerg's retirement.

“Most people work hard to let themselves relax in retirement. That's fine, but... Very often relaxation is understood to mean non-doing, a period of no obligations or activities. But I know that just relaxing and a boring routine is not for me at all, and especially here, on the Costa del Sol where you can do so much more,” Bjoerg explained.

Nerja has become a very inspiring place for Bjoerg because of the weather with almost daily sunshine and also the reasonable prices. She appreciates the pleasant atmosphere that is created here not only by the locals but also by foreigners. In Nerja, Bjoerg immediately felt part of something international. She found other Norwegian nationals in the AHN (Asociacion Hispano-Nordica), a Spanish-Nordic society that promotes mutual understanding and knowledge of Spanish and Scandinavian cultures. In every sentence, Bjoerg emphasises that she has found complete satisfaction in her life since her retirement.

“My husband soon became president of the AHN society. I supported him as usual, as my name actually dictates, she laughs (Bjoerg means 'support' in Norwegian). Personally, I have taken a creative direction - singing in the choir, playing in the theatre, participating in the film club, going on excursions and taking part in cultural events... Every day in Nerja is about devoting myself to hobbies and interests, to relaxation and pleasure. Sometimes I wish I could have a nine-day week! I want to learn and perhaps catch up on things I have not been able to do earlier in my life. Speaking Spanish well is still my goal. Friends from Sweden and Norway are interested in what we do in Nerja, how we pass the time. They think we live like tourists, but we have a fantastic, busy life here! We are very grateful for that,” said Bjoerg.

"On the Costa del Sol we have a fantastic, busy life. We are very grateful for that..."

Bjoerg Jahren Andersson

Bjoerg can be found on the beach around 8am, where she takes kilometre-long walks, and later she enthusiastically competes in games of petanque. This helps her to start the day actively, keep fit and be happy. Incidentally, the longest-running study of human happiness has shown that what makes us happiest in life are relationships and positive social connections. Bjoerg in Nerja is well connected and has also learnt how to pass on the happiness to others.

Celebration in Benalmádena.
Celebration in Benalmádena. A.M.S.

“I am the master of ceremonies for couples from Scandinavia. It gives me joy to entertain people. This makes me happy too. This year, a Swedish wedding will take place here in Nerja on 6 June. That means that I will have to postpone the summer trip to Scandinavia, which we usually start in mid-May. Although... on the bright side, I'll have the opportunity to enjoy San Isidro, one of my favourite holidays. Compared to other Spanish holidays, it's a celebration of joy. More often than not, they are religious and sad. On 17 May I am going to Benalmádena, where the Norwegian school is located, and where they traditionally have children's parades. It's just a pity I don't have my bunad with me, but I'll be proud to wave the Norwegian flag,” said Bjoerg.

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