This thesis examines the celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17th in Seattle from 1945 to 2009. The event has been staged without interruption by Norwegian Americans since 1889 and has developed into being one of the major celebrations of 17th May outside Norway. The thesis aims at answering why Norwegian descendants in Seattle have maintained the tradition of celebrating the Norwegian Constitution Day in America by investigating the symbolic and and verbal conception of Norwegian and American nations accordingly as expressed in the celebration; as well as its function.
In the earliest part of the period under investigation, Norwegian Americans instigated an indoor celebration consisting of a patriotic program, speeches and dinner, relevant primarily for the Norwegian American community. From the 1970s, a revived ethnic awareness caused celebration to widen and embrace more of the general American population, as ethnic pluralism gradually became characteristic of American public life. In 1974, the celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day was transferred to the Ballard area, where the main part of the festivity was the parade, which incorporated both Norwegian and American cultural elements. At first glance, it may seem that the celebration developed from an exclusive into a more inclusive event as American elements were added. The celebration seemed to become more Americanized but at the same time it was argued that the Norwegian aspects were as important as ever.