What does it mean?
Stå i det literally means ‘stand in it’, but a more accurate translation would be ‘stick with it’.
It could be fair to say it’s the Norwegian version of the British ‘keep calm and carry on’, as – like this British staple – stå i det reflects a Norwegian cultural particularity.
Just as the Brits cherish their ability to keep cool and not get too worked up about things (at least not visibly), Norwegians take pride in their ability to keep at it when things are tough.
Persistence is a crucial part of Norwegian identity. We’re a Viking people. We probably wouldn’t even exist unless some lunatic had decided to make the land that could yield literally nothing other than potatoes his own.
Yes, we are rich now. But we didn’t always have our oil money. Until recently we were pretty poor.
Norwegians know this (at least we’re supposed to, it’s fair to say the lesson has not completely sunk in with everyone in the younger generations).
Everyone has a grandparent who has told them the story of how they would eat fish on Monday, then a new fish together with the leftover fish on Tuesday, then a new fish mixed with those leftovers on Wednesday – and so on (just imagine what Fridays were like!).
When the weather is crap but the first snow has turned the slopes white, Norwegians don’t stay inside – they bloody ski.
In the north of Norway – the arguably proudest Norwegians of all – they say stå han av, which translates to ‘stand him off’, but means the same as stå i det. I once had a northerner tell me in utter seriousness that, anytime the weather was really bad (and, trust me, it gets really bad far north) he “likes sitting on the edge of the sea to really feel the weather.”
Bottom line is, Norwegians know how to handle a crisis. All Norwegian children learn in school how to build a bonfire and snow caves to seek refuge from during a storm. Hell, the main dish kids are told to bring for their weekly ‘forest day’ (yes, we have that), is called pinne brød – ‘stick bread’.
When things are tough, the Norwegian står i det. They persist.