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NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS

The 20 signs you’ve become a true Norwegian

Whether it's a distaste for warm tap water or having an appetite for Tacos on a Friday there are plenty of signs that you are well on your way to becoming Norwegian, writes Lorelou Desjardins the author behind the A Frog in the Fjord blog. Here are 20.

A reindeer in Jotunheimen national park.
These are the signs you're becoming a true Norwegian. Pictured is a reindeer in Jotunheimen national park. Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

1. You always drink water from the tap but cannot stand drinking lukewarm water. Although in your home country you would never waste water by letting it run, here in Norway you can wait as long as it takes to get a cold glass of water. It needs to have the temperature of the glacier it just came out of.

2. When Christmas approaches, you start decorating your house for it to be visible from space. But the most important thing for you as a true Norwegian is to have more lights and outside decorations than your neighbours.

3. You have a blind trust in Norwegian authorities, and know that the tax authorities will always pay you back whatever you paid extra, with interest, so you willingly pay more taxes every year in order to get it back from the tax authorities the year after. You call it ” saving”.

4. You are very disappointed if there are no Norwegian waffles at you work’s cafeteria on any given Friday. When you first moved here you maybe had wild ideas like eating waffles with melted chocolate and whipped cream, or with lemon and sugar like we eat crêpes in France. But now as a true Norwegian you are so integrated that you only like them with either of these two options: rømme (cream) and jam, or brunost (brown cheese).

5. Your idea of a perfect vacation is one you spend in a cabin in untouched nature, meeting as few people as possible, and peeing in an outside toilet with a picture of the King of Norway on the wall.

A cabin in Norway

One sign you are becoming Norwegian is when this, a cabin, becomes your ideal holiday destination. Photo by Hasse Lossius on Unsplash

6. You never buy Fanta anymore, but choose the Norwegian version Solo instead. Same for Kvikk Lunsj which you would always choose over a KitKat. I mean the Norwegian version tastes totally different and SO much better, am I right?

7. You can spend 15 minutes explaining to someone the difference between the sound “kj” like in “kjøkken” and the sound “sj” like in
“sjokolade”. And another 15 minutes complaining that Norwegian youth says “sh” for everything and does not even differentiate the true Norwegian sounds anymore.

8. You never call your doctor anymore unless your are sick more than 3 days in a row. In Norway there is something called egenmelding which means the first three days are taken by the employee, based on trust and with no medical justification.

9. You believe that people who drink a glass of wine on a Tuesday for lunch are alcoholics, but it is completely healthy to drink until you fall on a Friday evening. That is just called having a social life.

10. You honestly believe Taco Friday is an ancient Norwegian tradition dating back centuries.

11. You miss cross country skiing so much in the summer that you’ve started roller-skiing. And of course the most stressful part about climate change is that there will be less snow for cross country skiing.

cross country skiing.

The more you settle in Norway, the more you will be concerned about global warming’s impact on cross country skiing. Photo by Pierre Jarry on Unsplash

12. You sleep with people on one-night-stands and ignore them the next day when meeting them in town or on public transportation.

13. You honestly believe that being drunk is a valid excuse for saying and doing anything without having to be held accountable.

14. You have already developed an identity relating to Christmas food. You now know whether you are a ribbe or pinnekjøtt family. Make sure you choose that right, because that tradition will have to be respected forever, and probably also by your children.

15. When you read the word Aass you think of a beer.

16. You love watching Norwegian tv shows, including “Ribbe minutt for minutt” where you can watch a ribbe (pork belly) in an oven for hours while you cook your own Christmas dinner, or that other one called “Hver gang vi møtes” where singers sing each other’s songs. You cry a little at least once per episode.

17. You think the Norwegian Royal family is so warm and fantastic even though they cost tax payers a whole lot of money. But look at those cheek bones, and the nice speeches they write. It is all worth it.

18. You and your partner switched your double duvet for a single down duvet each. Why on earth would anyone want to sleep under the SAME duvet? Even though you are married and have kids.

19. You know at any given time whether the state monopoly shop for alcohol is open, and how much alcohol quota you are allowed to take home to Norway returning from a trip abroad. You aren’t even sure it is cheaper anymore but it does not matter, you buy the maximum of that quota every time you come back to Norway.

20. You always leave your baby outside in the cold in its pram when having coffee with your friends. As a true Norwegian you believe it strengthens children’s immunity to be out in the cold, and of course as you live in Norway you cannot imagine anyone will steal your baby.

Do these signs strike a chord with you? Let readers know in the comments section below any other pointers that foreigners are becoming native Norwegian.

Lorelou Desjardins is French and has lived in Norway for 12 years. She writes the blog A Frog in the Fjord and her new book called A Frog in the Fjord – One Year in Norway was recently recommended by Forbes as one of the most revealing books about Scandinavia. She also writes a column in the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang about all the weird things Norwegians do.

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MAY 17TH

What you need to know about Norway’s May 17th celebrations this year 

For the first time in three years, Norway will mark its national day of celebration, Constitution Day, without pandemic restrictions. This is what you need to know about May 17th.

What you need to know about Norway's May 17th celebrations this year 

What is May 17th? 

“Syttende Mai”, as it’s known in Norwegian, is Norway’s national day and marks the signing of the constitution on the same day in 1814, which declared Norway an independent nation. 

How is it celebrated?

For many, it begins with a large breakfast with friends or family. The breakfast is a typically Norwegian one, consisting of bread, rolls, spreads (or pælegg), and baked goods. 

Breakfast begins typically quite early, and it won’t be uncommon for the meal to be accompanied by champagne. 

The day is celebrated in pretty the same way everywhere across the country. 

The main feature of the day is marching bands and children’s parades through the town, city or village centre. 

These haven’t been as prominent in recent years due to the pandemic. However, you can expect a return to form this year as a record number of kids have signed up to take place in the children’s parade in Oslo this year

The parade in Oslo is the most iconic. Children parade up to the palace and wave at the royal family. 

The kids’ parade is followed by a worker’s one and then a russetog, consisting of final year high-school students who have spent the last month or so partying. 

People will then either eat out, grill at home, or have family dinners. 

What’s with the costumes?  

If you have spent any time in Norway, it is almost without doubt that you will have seen or at least heard of a bunad

The origins of the bunad has its roots in the period of national romanticism in Norway in the 19th century. This period led to an interest in traditional folk costumes in Norway and countries such as Germany. 

Folk costumes were worn in Norway a long time before the period of national romanticism, however. For example, in Setesdal, southern Norway, a tradition of folk costumes stretches back to the 14th century. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about Norway’s national costume

Do I have to wear a bunad

Not if you don’t want to. Which, to some, will be a relief as they are incredibly expensive. 

Although, you will be expected to dress smartly if you have been invited for breakfast, unless stated otherwise. 

A smart pair of trousers and shirt for men is recommended at a minimum if attending an event. Local men who don’t have a bunad may opt for a full suit and tie. 

Women are also expected to dress up for the occasion. 

What else do I need to know? 

If you are visiting Norway, you may find it hard to find a place to eat as many restaurants will either be closed or fully booked for a special May 17th menu.  

Also, getting about may be a bit of a hassle as roads will be closed for parades. In Oslo, people are being asked to avoid the National theatre T-bane stop. 

As it’s a public holiday, supermarkets, shops and state-owned wine monopolies will be shut. On the plus side, that also likely means that you’ll have a day off work too. 

Flag-waving is a big tradition, but there are a few general rules. If you hoist a Norwegian flag on May 17th, it will need to be taken down by 9pm. 

Additionally, if waving a small flag, you shouldn’t point the flag toward the ground because it is rude. 

And finally, while the celebrations may be strange for an outsider, Norwegians are very proud of the day and its traditions. To avoid making any potential social faux pas, you should avoid poking fun at some of the traditions. 

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