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Norwegian word of the day: Våghals

If you're someone who isn't scared to jump into the unknown or know anyone not afraid of taking risks, you'll soon find yourself acquainted with this term. 

Today's Norwegian word of the day: Våghals.
If you're willing to take a jump into the unknown or test your skills to the limit then you are a "Våghals". Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

What does it mean?

Literally translated, it can be a strange one to wrap one’s head around. It takes the words for dare (våg) and throat (hals) and pops them together. When combined, the term can mean daredevil or someone prepared to take risks. 

The risks aren’t just ones that put your body in harm’s way? A våghals can also refer to someone who takes a step into the unknown and starts that business they’ve always dreamed of. 

The term can be used both in admiration and derision. 

Why do I need to know this? 

Norwegians are a nation that loves to spend time outside, whether it’s clambering up mountains or bombing down them on either one or two planks of wood, depending on whether they ski or snowboard. 

Therefore, it’s only natural that such an active country develops an appetite for pushing their bodies to their psychical peak in daring challenges. 

Use it like this

Jøss Petter, du er en skikkelig våghals! 

(Wow, Petter, you are a proper daredevil!) 

Emilie hoppet I fallskjerm fra en helicopter forrige uke. For en våghals!

(Emilie jumped from a plane with a parachute last week. What a daredevil!)

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Five Norwegian words which help sum up May 17th

Norway's national day, May 17th, which marks the signing of the country's constitution, is a unique celebration with plenty of traditions. Here are five words that help explain the occasion.

Five Norwegian words which help sum up May 17th


Breakfast the most important meal of the day. This is no different in Norway, and on May 17th, the meal that people enjoy the most or put the hardest work into if they are hosting (but not any literal blood, sweat or tears, hopefully) is breakfast. 

May 17th normally begins with a champagne breakfast to kick start a day of festivities. The breakfast is typically held relatively early so that people can head out to join in with the celebrations, although some will do it afterwards as a kind of brunch. 

This won’t be your typical Norwegian breakfast. Instead, the canned leverpostei is likely to be parked in favour of more upmarket and luxurious sandwich toppings. 


An event that typically follows the breakfast is the childrens’ parades all over the country.

The word literally translates to ‘children’s train’ but refers to parades. Kids up and down the country will typically participate in parades, usually with their school classes. This will be through the town or city centre. 

The most famous of the childrens’ parades is the one which sees kids in Oslo make their way up Karl Johan Gate Street to wave to the royal family who watch on from the palace. 

The parades usually end with a russetog. The russetog is a procession of russ students. Russ is where final year high-school students in Norway party in the lead up to May 17th. 

This parade maybe isn’t as wholesome as the kids’ one as the students tend to look a bit worse for wear after a month of partying. 


On Norway’s national day, you’ll see plenty of locals dressed in their national costumes. 

The day is so closely associated with the bunad that the national costume could be seen as a symbol of May 17th. 

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, there is a tradition of folk costumes that stretches back to the 14th century. 

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


This means the national anthem or song, Norway’s national anthem is Ja, vi elsker dette landet (yes, we love this country). It was only adopted relatively recently, in 2019. 

While Sønner av Norge, was considered the proper national anthem up until this point, Ja, vi elsker dette landet was considered more of a de-facto national anthem and certainly the anthem of May 17th. 

It was first performed publicly on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the constitution, giving the song an incredibly close link with the country’s national day. 

If you do fancy brushing up on the lyrics, just remember it’s typically just the first and last verses that are sung. 


This one may not be overly beneficial in expanding your vocabulary, but there is no May 17th without the flags. Most apartments in Norway have a flag holder on their balcony with Constitution Day in mind. 

Not only will the majority of houses and apartment blocks have Norwegian flags on display, but most people also heading out will be carrying flags. 

The flag mania doesn’t stop there, as most breakfast tables will be adorned with flags or decorations depicting the flag. 

One rule would be to ensure that you don’t