How does it work, Norwegian culture

O’beautiful May: the most celebrated month of the year

I started mapping out this post yesterday and was very excited to invite you in to the Norwegian world of May, but waking up today was like having a brick thrown at my face. It’s snowing. A lot. And it just sucked all the joy out of my summer-hungry soul. As I walked my zombie like body towards the coffeemaker in the kitchen this view hit me:

 

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Oh well.. It’s a part of May as well. It happens every year. It’s just so traumatizing that I put it in that little box in the back of my mind and throw away the key, which puts me in the same soul-sucking situation every year.  Anyway, May is a month of beauty and celebration for Norwegians. It’s the last month of spring, blooming season (when it’s not snowing), a month filled with days off work and the celebration of Independence Day.

I picked out some appropriate pictures to give you a sense of what May looks like in Norway:

 

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  1. May Day – our first day off. As a teen you will use this day to recover from a terrible hangover. As an adult you will march the streets for you rights. I will stay in bed, especially with today’s weather.
  2. From late April until the 17th of May you will see high school grads in their overalls doing weird things in the streets. They are called Russ, which is a tradition Norwegians have taken with them from the 1700s Denmark. In 1905 we introduced the red hats in to the graduation process and it’s just grown from there. Now we have a different color for different main subjects, but mainly you see the reds and blues. Red usually means history students and the blue is for economics. We put a lot of effort in to this celebration, so you should not be surprised if you see painted buses driving around with loud music. It’s pretty much a 17 day long festival filled with craziness. Every year the board of the Russ introduces that years knuter (knots) which sets the mood for what the celebration is going to look like. We tie knots and different things into the line of our hats when we have accomplished a task, like a twig for having sex in the forest – or a dog treat for crawling into a shop barking at dog food for 4 minutes. I feel insane as I write this, but it is actually something all Norwegians look forward to from an early age. Children often collect Russekort which is more like a business card that the Russ exchange with each other. Here’s mine from 12 years ago:

 

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Which reminds me that my hat is somewhere in storage with a 12 year old dog treat attached to it. Yackh! We do actually have a Norwegian TV series called Skam (shame) that went viral – where the plot is revolved around this celebration. I think it just got remade in American, but I have no idea how they would make that work..

3. Independence Day: 17th of May is the day of the year when Norwegians actually smile at strangers and say “Gratulerer med dagen” (Congratulations with this day) while they wave their flag with one hand and eat ice cream with the other. The day starts very early, often 07:30 which in practice means 05:00 because you have to dress up in traditional celebration clothes (Bunad) which takes forever to put on. And then we go into the city centers to watch all the children march and sing, in Oslo the Royal family waves from their balcony and there are popup carnivals all over the place. Well, that’s more of a family thing, I on the other hand celebrate a bit differently, but I’ll save that for the actual 17th of may.  I’ll add an old photo of myself in my Bunad here, because I’ve been to lazy to get a new shirt, so I might not be able to wear it this year:

 

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17th of May is many Norwegians favorite day and it’s not without cause. Norway is a fairly young independent country and it brings much joy to celebrate the liberation from both Sweden and Denmark.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the May introduction and if you’ve ever wondered what would be the best time to visit Norway: May. You might want to be prepared for some snow, but all in all there’s usually a lot of sunny warm days, filled with happy and crazy Norwegians.

På gjensyn!

 

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How does it work, Norwegian culture

How Norwegians save money

Norway is a very expensive country. Or we like to think so and complain about it. Truth be told, we’re not way off other European countries when it comes to earnings versus cost. The thing is that our earnings and costs are in the higher specter and we enjoy living the good life while visiting other places in the world, which is why we save where we can. I don’t think saving makes you Norwegian, it makes you human… Who doesn’t like a good deal?!

Norwegians who live close to the Swedish boarder goes to Sweden, regularly, to shop (In the north they go to Russia). Martine and I did this yesterday and I went ahead with the creation of my first video-blog. I want to apologize in advance: I’m not very tech savvy when it comes to doing vlogs (sorry not sorry), but it’s a start! So enjoy the video and I will explain what I bought and why further down in this post.

 

As you can see we bought soda, liquor, proteins and food of course, but we were very focused in the food store, so no filming. Here are my favorites and why I bought them:

I also buy cigarettes. Because i smoke. A lot. Like a chimney. And guess what? They are cheaper. Way, waaaay cheaper. So we drive for two hours to shop – just because it’s cheaper. I think I spent about 3400 NOK – ironically enough I have no idea have much I “saved”, but I know I would have spent much more if I were to buy this amount in Norway.

I hope you enjoyed the video. If there’s anything in particular you would like to see a video blog about, please let me know.

På gjensyn!  

 

Norwegian culture, Uncategorized

Springtime!

Oh the joy! Spring is finally here after a long, dark, cold and snowy winter! I cannot describe the feeling it gives and unless you live in a raw seasonal place with hard winters and (sometimes) hot summers, it’s hard to comprehend the sensation.

We’ve got some signs of spring other than the temperature going up and the snow melting. I’m going to walk you through them.

  1. Hestehov/Coltsfoot: First spring sign – this flower sticks up through the snow.
  2. Cafes and restaurants set up their serving zones outside: Norwegians sit outside for the whole spring/summer – which is why we have both heaters and umbrellas – in case of rain or cold. Summer is summer and summer is spent outside! Even if it means wearing a scarf.
  3. Humans outside in the streets: People come out of their winter caves to enjoy themselves and  each other.
  4. Sunshine: It speaks for itself.  We are not spoiled…

If you ever want to experience Norwegians at their best, spring is the time to visit! Not only are we happy, we’re friendly too!

So this was a quicky – need to get back out and enjoy while I can. Have a lovely day, reader ❤

På gjensyn!

Norwegian culture

Norwegian culture: Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is essential to the Norwegian culture. How else would we make friends and partners or open up about our feelings? With our social codex it’s hard to connect and to make connections out of nowhere, so what do we do? We drink. Actually we binge. Welcome to a requested topic: Alcohol. I will share with you why we drink and how we drink. And of course why we do Vors (pre-party) before we go out.

It’s not socially acceptable not to drink, unless your pregnant or you’re an recovering alcoholic. Drinking is rooted deep in our culture and is the easiest way for us to feel comfortable with other people. So if you don’t drink, it means that you are an uncomfortable element.  And we certainly don’t appreciate that.  Why, you ask? Well, it’s all about the way we drink. We don’t have a glass of wine for lunch or dinner, we don’t consume a little here and a little there. No, we save up the entire weeks quota and unleash our thirst on Friday or Saturday night. We are hardcore binge drinkers.  And all those feelings, questions and our suppressed courage come out all in one night.  Have you got any idea the anxiety that comes with it knowing that a sober person was watching it all?

The way we go about it is usually with a Vors. We gather at a friends house with twelve beers, a bottle of wine or some easily consumed spirits. This is where we stay until the time reaches about 12 or 1 pm and then move on to a bar or a club. I’ve been asked why we do this and here’s the reason why:

  1. We are binge drinkers. We consume large amounts of alcohol. (Very charming, huh?)
  2. Drinks are f*cking expensive.
  3. We need to get in to a comfortable setting before joining strangers out on the town.

Once our self-confidence is on top and we’re nearly to drunk to get in to any bar, we hit the town, ready to make some new relations. Let me explain with my super skill:

 

Or it may end more like this:

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Either you got yourself a new friend or you too embarrassed to ever see this person again – till next weekend.

There is a lot more I could explain about our alcohol habits, but because alcohol is such an important and fundamental key to our culture it would make this a very, very long post. Therefore I will save some for a later time and present the different themes to you in coherence with some other topics.  Just note that alcohol is important to us and that our habits don’t mirror the European ways. I guess this has been the Norwegian way since the beginning of time and it will probably never change. That means that we have to change, and we don’t. So if you’re ever visiting and are wondering where all the Norwegians are at 9 pm – give it four more hours and we’ll see you then! Drunk and ready to mingle.

På gjensyn!