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Norwegian expression of the day: Russetiden

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Ingri Bergo - [email protected]
Norwegian expression of the day: Russetiden
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

It's the time of year where drunk teenagers in bright red pants will become an increasingly common sight in Norway.

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What does it mean?

Russetiden consists of two words: russ and tid

Tid is easy, it means ‘time’. Russ is a more complicated concept. It refers to a senior year high schooler who is celebrating nearly being done with school. 

What is it?

It's reserved for senior high schoolers only, and starts late April (although the exact date seems to be set earlier and earlier every year) and lasts until May 17th, the Norwegian national day.

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Basically it’s four weeks of partying. By the time May 17th rolls around, the teenagers look like zombies. Russ students are easily identifiable by their russebukser - pants made for the russ.

There are a hundred oddities about russetiden. Norwegians don’t question them too much, but to foreigners they sound utterly mad. 

Firstly, russetiden is celebrated before exams, not after. That means teenagers spend weeks of getting completely sloshed - often at daytime and during school - before passing the most important tests of their high school year. Although as exams have been cancelled the last few years this won't be a concern. 

Secondly, russetiden is - for most people - incredibly expensive. While the glamour and cost varies between schools and regions, some teenagers spend tens of thousands of kroners just on the bus.

Most russ drive around in buses - real buses. They're called russebuss and many teenagers spend years planning who gets to rulle (which means 'to roll' and is a slang term for who gets be on the bus and who doesn't).

Another feature of Russ is russeknuter - a long string of dares russ do to get medals fastened to their russelue ('hat'). 

It's used like this: 

Er du russ i år? - Are you 'russ' this year?

Endelig er det vår tur til å være russ! - Finally it's our turn to be 'russ'!

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