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28/04/2011 / Julie

The Russ of Norway

Last night (april 27) our school started the annual May celebrations. Every year the whole nations class 13’s are allowed to go out of their way to create mischief, have fun and celebrate the end of 13 years of school, and this year I’m a part of it!

Officially it really starts on May Day (International Worker’s Day) and ends on Norway’s national day, which is the 17th of May (when we got our constitution in 1814), however every

A car gets baptised

school in Norway starts the celebration at least a few days early, some started even before easter. The first

night starts with a baptism where the priests are the first ones to be baptised by the Russe-President of the school, and then we all recieve the names that have been chosen for us, and get a beer or some other alchoholic beverage poured over our heads.

The names can be basically anyting, but they are chosen by other people. We have names such as “Dad’s paying”, “The Quarreler”, “Freia” (which is Norway’s numero uno chocolate manufacturer), “Who” and everything from simple as “Cow” to “The Ditch”.

After the baptism, we have a party to celebrate. This morning (April 28) it was time for what we call “the Russ release” and every school housing 8th-10th graders are on edge. The day marks the start of the Russ’ terror reign of mischief and we start it by bombarding the 8th-10th graders with water. And yes, being

Swimming in Mjøsa

Russ we are allowed to do this. The teachers are happy to see old students, and they let the inevitable happen, just keep it from getting out hand.

Part of being Russ is the demands we have to do. They range from the absurd to dares, like running across a bridge that is 1,7 kilometres butt naked,another one is having a serious conversation with a lamppost for 10 minutes and a third is bathing in Mjøsa (Norway’s biggest lake) before May 1st. The last one might not sound like much, but the ice broke less than a week ago. I’m bathing tomorrow.

You might notice the clothes in these pictures, well it’s what makes us a unit. There are several colours, but the most common is red. This is for the people that have finished their education and is now moving on to higher education or are off to work.

Trouser décor

The green colour are for those who are now done with an agricultural education, black are for those who are now moving on to becoming apprentices for at least two years, and blue which have specialised in economics. The trousers get decorated with marks and writing. We do our best to have fun.

A big part of the whole thing is celebrating Norway, and being a good part of the community (the Russ have had some bad press in recent years). We create life, and every living Norwegian have memories of being Russ or deciding not to for some reason. My grandfather, who’s now 87 was Russ, both my sister and my brother and now it’s my turn.

The tradition started in 1905 when Norway got released from the union with Sweden, and as a celebration of graduation. It is now 106 years old, and it is very much alive. I’ll leave you with our call, adapted in 1934 from a Danish scouts call and still yelled out today:

Chickelacke, chickelacke, show, show, show!

Bummelacke, bummelacke, bow, bow, bow!

Chickelacke, bummelacke, jazz bom bøh!

Julekake, julekake, hjembakt brød!”

It works very well in Norwegian, believe me 😉

The Norwegian flag in sunset over Mjøsa


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