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Norwegian expression of the day: Hæla i taket!

Norwegian expression of the day: Hæla i taket!
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why, to Norwegians, kicking your heels in the ceiling and chewing on the wallpaper means you're throwing the ultimate party.

Why do I need to know hæla i taket?

Because it’s the best way to describe Norwegian behaviour on May 17th, Norway's national day.

What does it mean?

Hæla i taket – 'heels in the roof' – is a Norwegian expression that people use to say that a party is going to be ‘lit’. 

If you add on tenna i tapeten – 'teeth i in the wallpaper' – then you're really going crazy.

Hæla means ‘heels’ – hæl is ‘heel’ and hæla is a (slang) variant of the plural version hælene – and i taket means ‘in the roof’.

So basically when Norwegian says hæla i taket og tenna i tapeten, it's an invitation to go wild. Really wild.

May 17th

As you may know, slippe seg løs – 'let loose' – is not Norwegians' strongest feat.

Southern Europeans especially are often shocked over Norwegian cultural stiffness, which translates into a national phobia of dance floors that can only be cured by clutching a gin and tonic.

But there is one exception to the rule, and incidentally it's this very weekend.

Søttende mai, which is how you pronounce May 17th in Norwegian, or Norway's national day, is coming up on Sunday.

To Norwegians, this is perhaps the best day of the year.

Kicked off with a champagne breakfast around 8 am (hæla i taket), followed by a marching band and children's parade with people shamelessly roaring national songs (hæla i taket!) while wearing national costumes that look like a crossover between a farmer's dress from another century and a Santa's elf (hæla i taket!).

If you're in Oslo, you might gather outside the castle and wave to the royal family, before continuing the party downtown, having as many ice creams, hot dogs and drinks you can possibly master (hæla i taket!).

In short, May 17th is a day for chucking your inhibitions up on the shelf, and not taking them down until the next day. 

 


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