Norway has certain dates where all public buildings are required to hoist the Norwegian flag, and you will see the Norwegian flag flying from flag poles all around.
The general public is encouraged to flag on the public flag dates as well, but they are not required to. So, let’s take a closer look at the different flag days and Norway, and the reason why we hoist the flags on these days.
What exactly are flag days?
Flag days are special days where all government and all other public buildings are legally required to hoist the Norwegian flag. The general public are encouraged to hoist the Norwegian flag in a flag pole or from a balcony flag attachment.
The Norwegian flag days are usually tied to religious holidays, the birthdays of the royal family members, democratic days like elections, and other celebrations like the labor day.
It is important to remember that flag days are not the same as public holiday dates, and there are many flag days where you still have to go to work and where shops are open as usual.
List of all the flag days in Norway
The flag days in Norway are made up of fixed days where the flagging day is tied to a special date, but the other category are days where the date will change from year to year.
Below are all the fixed flag dates in Norway:
- January 1. This is New Year’s Day, which is also a public holiday to celebrate the new year.
- January 21. This is the birthday of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, the princess that will one day be the regent Queen of Norway.
- February 6. National Day for the Sámi people.
- February 21. Birthday of Harald V of Norway, the current regent of Norway.
- May 1. Labor Day.
- May 8. Liberation day in 1945. This is when the Nazi German occupation ended at the end of World War II.
- May 17. Norway’s National Day / Constitution Day. This is the day where you will see Norwegian flags everywhere, and it’s a huge celebration.
- June 7. Dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden. This if often a kind of forgotten flag day that most people don’t really care much about.
- July 4. Birthday of Queen Sonja of Norway, the wife of the regent King.
- July 20. Birthday of Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway. He is next in line to be regent in Norway.
- July 29. Olsok. This is a celebration to Saint Olav, the former King of Norway. This is also a flag day most people don’t really care or know about.
- August 19. Birthday of Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway. She is the wife of Haakon.
- December 25. Christmas Day.
As you can see, most of the flag days in Norway are tied to our independence days, religious celebrations or the royal family.
The flag dates below are flexible, so they will change from year to year.
- First Day of Easter. Usually around the end of April. It’s early on April 9 in 2023.
- First Day of Pentecost. Usually around the beginning of June. It’s on May 29 in 2023.
- Parliamentary voting Day / Election Day. Every 4th year, always on a Monday in September. The next date is currently not set.
The reason why the Easter and Pentecost dates are changing from year to year is because the celebration is tied to the Xth Sunday after the new year. This Sunday will change yearly since the new year begins on a changing day of the week, so all of the Easter celebration changes dates as well.
The flag days change every once in a while
Many of the official Norwegian flag days are tied to the birthday of the royal family, and these will obviously change as time goes on. As old regents die and new heirs are born, the official flagging dates changes to the birthday of those who in the royal family who are alive.
The next flag day change will likely be either when Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway of gets married (and we flag on the day of her husband or wife), or when the current King or Queen dies.
Norway only flags for the heirs to the throne and their spouses, not any of the siblings of the heirs. The only event where this would happen is if the heir to the throne chooses to abdicate from the throne (from how I understand the law, and this is only theoretical since it has not happened).
Most of the flag days which are not tied to the royal family are pretty static. Most of these dates have been unofficial flag days “forever”. The official flag dates only appeared in 2004 when the new flagging law was implemented, so until this point each public building were more free to choose if they wanted to flag or not.
The only big exception is the flag date for the Sami people, which was traditionally not flagged by the non-Sami people of Norway until pretty recently. Ironically we flag the Norwegian flag, not the Sami flag on this day..
The flag law that dictates the official flag dates is called “flaggforskriften” §4, so the government need to actually agree to change this law whenever the official flag dates are changing.
Flagging on non-flag days
There are some days where it is acceptable for public buildings to flag outside of the official flag days. These are limited to events like:
- A festive national event.
- A festive royal event.
- Official visit from a member of the royal family.
- Official visits from foreign head of state.
- Official visits from a foreign royal family member.
Public buildings are not to raise the flag for other reasons unless it’s considered to be of equal importance as the reasons mentioned above. So a public school should not do things like flag for students’ birthdays or school specific celebrations.
That said, things like a “festive national event” are open to interpretation, so you will occasionally find the flag raised at public buildings other than the official dates.
When it comes to the general public, you are free to flag whenever you want to. So don’t worry if you want to hoist the flag to celebrate your kids’ birthday or anything like that.
Don’t forget to follow the flag rules
In the flaggforskriften / flag laws of Norway, there’s a lot of other rules beside just the official flag dates. Did you know that you need to always take the flag down before sundown? Or that there are limits to the size of the flag compared to the flag pole?
As a matter of fact, there are lots and lots of different rules to regulate where, how, when and why to flag the Norwegian flag. Luckily, all of these rules also only applies to public buildings, so you can’t really get into trouble with the law if you flag the wrong way.
That said, you might piss off your neighbor if you hoist the flag, but forget to take it down before sundown. Some people take this very serious. Again, you will not get a fine or legal trouble, but you might get stern looks from your neighbors.
I’ve already written a detailed post about the flag rules in Norway, so check out the article about this here if you want to learn more. You are not required to follow the flag rules as a private person, but it’s highly advised to do your best to follow it.
Should the general public flag on flag days?
The laws regarding the flag days only explicitly state for public buildings to flag on these dates, but the general public is encouraged to do so as well.
The most well-known flag dates are typically used by everyone. This includes Norway’s National Day, Labor Day and Christmas Day, but most people don’t really bother to flag for the royal family.
So if you want to flag on the public flagging dates, feel free to do so. But don’t worry if you forget to flag (unless it’s on May 17, because everyone should flag on this day).