Norwegian expression of the day: Lønningspils

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

Need an excuse to grab a beer? Norway has plenty. Here's one of the most celebrated ones.


Why do I need to know lønningspils?

Because, to Norwegian, this monthly event is nearly so sacred that it would merit a holiday of its own. Norwegian's actually have a lot of different sayings which express scenarios in which they might want to sip a nice cold beverage. Whether it's outside, on pay day, in the park or on a Friday "types" of beer in Norway, besides the usual line-up of lagers or IPAs. 

What does it mean?

Lønningspils means 'pay day beer'. Lønning means 'pay' and pils is slang for øl, which means 'beer'.

In Norway, people often celebrate that joyous occasion it is to see the fruits of your labour being virtually transferred into your bank account by going out for a drink with colleagues.

But why would you need that big of an excuse to go out for a beer with your colleagues? Don't Fridays do it for people north of Denmark?

Well, yes, they do, we have fredagspils - Friday beer - too.

But remember that alcohol is terrifyingly expensive in Norway. An average pint easily costs you around €9. 

In fact, in the whole world, only Doha (Qatar) and Dubai (UAE) has higher average beer prices than Oslo.

So if you ask a colleague, skal vi ta en øl etter jobb? - want to grab a beer after work? - a couple of days before lønningspils, don't take offence if they say, jeg ville gjerne, men jeg har så lite penger på kortet - I'd love to, but I have so little money left on my card (kortet is Norwegian slang for 'bank account').

Of course, they may be wriggling themselves out of your offer, but it could also truly be that they don't have the money to go for a drink that day. 

But mostly, lønningspils is a concept invented so that people can grab a drink or six without feeling guilty about it after. You earned it.


Other kinds of pils

We like having an excuse to go for a pils in Norway. It suits our work-hard play-hard identity we like to think we have (we really don't).

There are therefore several occasions reserved for pils:

Utepils - outdoor beer, for when the weather permits it

Pils i parken - beer in the park, for when the weather permits it

Fredagspils - Friday beer, just because, you know, it's Friday

(Going for a pils is not necessarily synonymous with having a beer, you can have any kind of drink. Just like 'grabbing a beer' in English doesn't necessarily imply your drink being a beer.)

While not a beer exactly, the expression lille lørdag, or "little Saturday" is seen as an opportunity to grab a bite to eat or go for a beer to mark the middle of the working week. 


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