By AUSTIN MILLER ’17
There’s a wild and crazy tradition for the high school students of Norway waiting for them at the end of their senior year, and it’s called Russefeiring. It starts on April 26 and lasts until Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17. Here at PLU, we have our fair share of Norwegian students, and one gave some insight on how the Russefeiring goes down.
Njaal Frilseth, a junior majoring in public relations here at PLU, smiled the whole time as he thought back to his Russefeiring experience.
“The basics of it… You just party,” he said with a laugh.
That is indeed the big idea of Russefeiring, which translates to “Russ Celebration” in English. Yet, there is a great amount of tradition that goes along with the party. The tradition has roots back to the 1700’s, but the modern version of Russefeiring started in 1905 when graduating high school students started wearing the red “russ hats” during the celebration.
The clothes that the Russ (the name for all the students that are participating) wear are crucial to the Russefeiring. The pants are the most recognizable item, and each color has a meaning. Red is for students who go to a general education school, and is by far the most common color. Black is for vocational school students. Blue is for business schools and green is for students who went to an agricultural school. You can check out the clothing options at russeservice.no. There is one big catch though; your pants are to remain unwashed throughout the whole Russefeiring!
Njaal forgot about his pants in his closet and stumbled upon them a year later. “Those pants… I still remember that smell. It was bad,” he said. “I think they could stand on their own.”
Another main component of the Russ outfit is the red hats. Everyone has a long string tied to their hat and many attempt to complete challenges known as Russeknute to add “knots” to their string.
“Each school has different challenges. Like you have to drink 20 beers while sitting in a tree, without falling down,” he said. “One you have to take a loaf of bread, hollow it out, and wear it as shoes all day.”
Most Russ have either vans (Russebiler) or buses (Russebusser) to travel across the country in. Many of the groups start saving money up from the time they enter high school in order to go big with their transportation when their time comes. Epic speakers and subwoofers are installed, the vehicle is painted, and sometimes groups who have the money install beds or even a bar to the inside of the van or bus.
“A friend of mine in Oslo made his whole bus like a bear. It had a lot of fur and just looked ridiculous. It looked really good.”
The Russebiler and Russebussers are needed to make the journey to different concerts across the country, put on just for the Russefeiring. “You get a lot of famous DJs, a lot of European artists. Mostly house music,” he said.
On May 17 all the Russ who are able-bodied join the Constitution Day parade. “If you’re not completely wasted in a ditch somewhere, you’re in the parade,” Njaal said with a chuckle. “You want to make people laugh.” Many participants just do something crazy to get laughs out of the audience.
Njaal reminisced on some hilarious stories as well. “A guy at my school, he got kidnapped by another bus from a different school,” he said. “They drove him up to a mountain, pushed him out the van and drove away!” No one saw him for about 2 days until he came walking back into town. “He probably walked 16 hours to get back,” he said.
Surprisingly, all this partying happens before the school year is actually over.
“I had an oral exam three days after May 17, and I had to do it with black permanent marker over half my face,” he said. This is why the only people in Norway against the celebration are some teachers, but for right now they’ll have to deal with it.
You can find another first hand Russefeiring experience here.
When asked for his final thoughts on Russefeiring, Njaal answered, “In retrospect, it’s really fun to look back on. I would never do it again! Not in a million years. I would never do it again! But it was a lot of fun.”