100 Years of Independence – June 7th
During the past few months the perfectly nice-looking main street of the city of Oslo has been (much to the annoyance of the inhabitants) dug up - only to be decorated with new cobbles and the pavements widened with an extra metre or two. The argument for spending millions on this, changing the routes of the public transport in order to see it through, and bewildering tourists by closing down the way that brings them with the most ease up to the palace, is that the city should look it's best on the grand day; the 7th of June.
On this day it's been exactly 100 years since Norway broke away from the union with Sweden and, of course, this fact needs to be celebrated. The reason for breaking away from Big-brother was due to a fight over the right to have our own consulate as it turned out that the Swedes weren't that keen on promoting an open and export-focused trade profile on our behalf when they, themselves, wanted a more closed economy. So we roared, refused to uphold a government (which meant the Swedish king failed his obligation to us, and thus we could claim the union for ceased – pretty clever, huh?), and took out our old weapons from cupboards and closets... we were ready for war.
But after intense negotiations in Karlstad, Sweden, it was all worked out peacefully and the Norwegians could finally celebrate an independent
nation. And boy did we do just that! We quickly found ourselves a king, queen and little prince, as that was an important thing to have down for a nation. Then we waved our flags, shouted 'Hurrah!', and were very patriotic. And who would have known that same patriotism would last for 100 years without decreasing.
Then came two wars, which we promptly decided to try and stay out of. We had just been given the authority to decide for ourselves, and now we were suddenly supposed to chose sides and be dependent on other countries again? Not very tempting. Luckily, in the first war we managed fairly well to stay out of it for most part, but then the Germans had to come and invade us. We were still being as patriotic as before, so we quickly formed a pretty good underground resistance. Many went to England to train for a counter-attack and, back home, we proved our resistance in other ways by wearing red winter hats and/or putting a paper clip (Norwegian invention) on our coats. We had no intention of giving up our newly won country just yet. That same intense
wish to be able to decide for ourselves is what's still keeping us out of the EU.
Then came 1945, and the war was over. There was, not surprisingly, much rejoicing. And things went pretty much upwards from that point. After a while, that little prince grew up to be the 'people's king', much loved by every inhabitant. When King Olav sadly died in January 1991 the whole area in front of the palace was absolutely packed with candles. He had been a good king, and a good Norwegian, going skiing as often as he had the chance.
In 1981 we got our first female prime minister, who later went on to rule the whole of The World Health Organisation. Her most valued contribution to the Norwegian society, though, was the statement 'It is typically Norwegian to excel', a statement we thought was so good that we decided to make it our unofficial national motto.
So, what have we achieved to be proud of today on our 100th birthday? Well, we still celebrate the constitutional day like no other country, are fiercely patriotic and think of ourselves as best. We have some of the most beautiful nature in the world and an oil fund that most probably will be the biggest fund in the world by the end of this year. Every year we promote peace by handing out the peace price, play an important role in the negotiations between the government and the Tamil-tigers in Sri Lanka, and pride ourselves in topping the list of countries when it comes to the percentage of the gross national product given to development aid. We still get to decide for ourselves (on the most part), we're inhabitants of the best country in the world to live in (according to the UN) and still win gold medals in cross-country skiing competitions. Could it get any better?
With hopes of another 100 years: Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!