Seattle is a city of layers.
When you first arrive you might see a layer of clouds in the sky. You might have to slosh through a layer of water from our most recent rainfall. But if you stick around long enough the sun might start shining; and as the clouds dissipate, you might catch a breath-taking glimpse of the mountains that surround us.
Seattle’s culture is as layered as our natural surroundings. People can live here for months and never truly become ingrained in life with other Seattleites. For example: we’re known for our “Seattle Freeze,” another way of saying you shouldn’t expect someone to say hello to you when you’re walking on the street. And there’s a reason for that. As with any layered thing, you’re gonna have to put in a little work to find our core. But once you find it…you’re in for a treat.
I reside in the north of Seattle, the neighborhoods of which were built and founded by Scandinavian immigrants about 128 years ago. This area of Seattle hasn’t always been a part of Seattle proper, and was actually considered its own city at one point. Its independence is definitely something you feel, when you live here.
The north Seattle neighborhood of Ballard is also known for our Constitution Day parade and celebrations. In fact, it’s one of the largest celebrations outside of Norway. Impressive, since we’re located over 4,000 miles away from the country itself.
As someone with Norwegian and Dane heritage, and a whole lot of family pride, I always love the 17th of May celebrations, also known as Norwegian Constitution Day (or Syttende Mai).
Every year, on the 17th of May, the day starts off with music and children’s entertainment at, or near, our Nordic Heritage Museum. As the day goes on, there’s a lunch celebration and other Norwegian themed events. And at night? At night we party. The parade starts at about 6pm, and stretches over 10 blocks of city streets, that are all closed down for the occasion. The turnout is on par with the 4th of July.
It’s such a beautiful celebration of our heritage, and this year I took my Schwinn along for the ride. Naturally, I represented with a flag pinned to the front of Valkyrie, even though the only one I could find was one for Sweden. All in the family, right?
Whether you share Scandinavian heritage, or not, the energy of May 17th is incredible, every year. It’s a time to stand with your neighbors and celebrate how this vibrant community got to where it is. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Seattle during this time of year, come celebrate with us! We’d love to have you.
Emilee is a travel addict passionate about weaving adventure into her everyday routine. A born and raised Seattleite, Emilee is a snow capped mountains and fresh salt air kind of girl, having spent much of her time on the Olympic Peninsula, exploring ocean coves with vampires. She bought her first Schwinn 5 years ago and loves taking adventures around her home city; her DSLR in one pocket, and her instant Fuji film in the other. She’s passionate about the arts and loves classical music, visual art and going to theater productions. In her spare time you can find her travel blogging, buying plane tickets, reading comic books and painting geek art for her Etsy shop.