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Friday, June 8, 2012

Russ...

Attention American, High School Seniors (and those that were high school seniors at one point, even if it was way back in '99), congratulations on graduating!  However, as you embark on Senior Week, know that while you might think your week-long, dalliance at the beach or having crazy house parties with Matt Damon are the ultimate, you're mistaken.

Norwegians go harder than you... Yeah?  Oh Yeah...

It all starts with the magical time of Russ.

I don't even think this needs a caption...
The Basics.
The period of celebration for graduating Norwegians is referred to as Russefeiring and those that participate in it are Russ (not to be confused with Rus, which means intoxication from drugs...).  The word Russ derives from the latin cornua depositurus, which means "bound to put aside one's horns" and is synonymous with many Scandinavian University Acceptance ceremonies (sinister legend suggests that during the time of "union" with Denmark, when Norwegian students attended The University of Copenhagen, snarky Danish students made them wear horns to denote their more "rural roots".  The Danes are mean).  Either way, there have been Russ, in some form or another, for a couple hundred years.


That sounds kinda gangster, but how can that compete with beer bonging and party hopping on the beach?


For starters, the period last longer than a week as it stretches from May 1 (May Day) to the National Constitution Day on the 17th.  Secondly, since the school structure is different here (Norwegian "middle school" is four years long), most Seniors are 19 when they graduate or, if they're precocious or born in the back half of the year, 18.  The drinking age in Norway is 18 (for beer and wine, 20 for hard liquor... but whoever waits?).  No fake I.D. needed.   


But they don't even have beer pong, how much fun can it even be?


It looks like a blast.  For starters, the whole "rural roots" thing gains traction here.  The customary clothing are overalls (yes, everyone and yes, they wear them for the duration of the 17 day period... it's frowned upon to wash them... in fact, if you get caught, they make you caught off a leg of the overalls), for everyone.  Boys and Girls.  They also have different colors depending on the course of study going forward.  Blue are for the Business kids, Black for Engineers, Green for Agriculture (the most rare of the Russ), and, for everyone else, Red.  Additionally, to discourage drunk driving, its customary for Russ to pay for transportation.  Not just any kind of transportation, but a tricked out bus.  You think your prom limo was fly, these busses can cost upwards of a quarter million US Dollars (think part RV, part tour bus).  




Where does the money come from?  You get sponsors, of course!


LEGO man gotta beer!
Or, your parents are just Oslo Ballerz and you and your friends just pool your allowances for it.

Either way, kids race around after school (that's right, these kids party and bomb out of their mind WHILE SCHOOL IS STILL GOING ON... they haven't even graduated yet.  They still have to take exams, which is in mid-June) going from party to party (The first weekend in May, there's a huge party in Stavanger) or creating their own.

Ringnes and Hansa for all
There are actually prizes for having the best bus.  The whole thing isn't a complete loss because most Russ recoup a sizable portion of their investment by reselling the bus the following year to the next set of Russ.

Aww, crap... I give up.  Are there anything else that they do that should make me hate my life or try to pose as an exchange student?

Instead of getting those wallet-size graduation pictures to hand out (There's a drawer at my parent's house that contains about a dozen of them along with my junior prom pictures... poor investment), Russ have mock business cards that they hand out to anyone that, if you clink the link you will see, contain a picture and a whole bunch of zany tidbits.  I think when I found out about this, I spent a few days trying to figure out what my cards would say.

So yeah... I won't say this often, but Norway wins.  Hands Down.

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Alt for Norge



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