Svalbard, as a possession of Norway, celebrates all Norwegian holidays including Constitution Day just like the mainland. The holiday is most frequently referred to by locals as Syttende Mai, meaning “seventeenth of May”, which is the date on which it occurs.
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On 17 May, 1814, a new constitution for Norway gave it independence from Denmark but not from Sweden. It was not until 1905 that Norway broke away from Sweden, but Constitution Day had already been celebrated for decades by then. When Norway was freed from the Nazi occupation force on 8 May, 1945, the 17 May celebrations took on new significance that year and every year since.
The most conspicuous events on Constitution Day in Norway and Svalbard are the children’s parades. Every school organises a parade, and the children often stop at war memorials along their route.
In Svalbard, Constitution Day celebrations have gone on since 1920 in the city of Longyearbyen. But the first parade dates only from 1945. Today, living conditions are much better in Svalbard than in decades gone by, and there are people living there from 50 other countries. But they all join in to celebrate Constitution Day every 17 May.