People all around the world have different traditions that they use to mark certain stages and accomplishments throughout their lives. Of such traditions, those involving teenagers and youths celebrating their entry into adulthood are most remarkable.
The Norwegians Russefeiring, a coming of age celebration for graduating high school students is a tradition to beat all others. Marked by constant partying, insane dares and other fun activities, the celebration has been criticized as being inanely bizarre and an excuse for excessive debauchery.
However, for most high school students and adults who have experienced it, the Russefeiringen is a sign of acceptance into maturity and adulthood.
To satisfy your unending curiosity about the Norwegian high school tradition, here’s everything you need to know about the Russefeiringen.
What is Russefeiring?
The ‘russefeiring’ is a long established celebration for Norwegian students in their final spring semester. The tradition goes back to the early 1900s and was inspired by the red caps worn by Germans visiting Norway.
The caps, known as russelue or Russ caps, were later introduced during graduation celebrations to mark the students’ entry into higher education systems.
Soon after, they were replaced by brightly colored overalls for the duration of the celebration, only staging a comeback on the final day of graduation. The celebration lasts from mid-April till May 17; the National Day, when events culminate with the Russ parade.
Why is it so important?
The Russefeiring is considered an important rite of passage for teenagers. In Norway, children are required to undergo 10 years of compulsory schooling with additional 2-3 years of upper secondary education. With this system, most students end up graduating soon after they turn 18.
The fact that 18 is the statutory age for acquiring a driver’s license as well as the minimum legal drinking age, also helps emphasize the importance of this stage in the life of an average Norwegian.
The students do not only celebrate the completion of their years of schooling but their entry into the world of independence and adulthood. It helps to know that while the celebration is called ‘Russefeiring,’ while the participants are the ‘Russ.’
Other interesting facts about the Norwegian Russefeiring
The colored outfits
The recognized outfits for the celebration are overalls in the colors red, blue, black, and green. Initially, the colors were determined by either the school or student’s course of study.
However, students are now allowed to choose whatever color they prefer despite their programs. The students also wear hoodies or bandanas ‘russebånd’ with their names printed on.
Whilst the Russ are allowed to change the clothes they have on beneath the overall, the overalls are to remain unwashed right until the end of the celebration. The consequence of disobeying the rule is determined by the students’ peers.
Usually, the punishment comes in the form of cutting the offender’s trouser overalls into shorts.
The celebration lasts much longer than typical high school graduation celebrations. Stretching from mid-April to mid-May, it involves constant host partying, getting dugnad for russ with students completing dares to win knots.
The Russ also pool their money to buy vans or busses which they rig with speakers and lighting to serve as mobile party houses.
With massive parties, customized busses and brightly colored outfits, the Russefeiring is a definite highlight in the life of the average Norwegian teen.
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