The Russ Celebration, Russefeiring, is a celebration for student of 18 years old, who are on their last year of upper secondary studies, in the spring semester. The students partaking in the celebration, which officially goes on from May 1st to the 17th, is called russ. It ends on May 17th, which is the Norwegian Constitution Day. For these seventeen days, the russ wear coloured overalls, drive matching cars, vans and buses, and they celebrate almost continuously through this period. Drunkenness and public disturbances are regularly linked to the russ celebration.
There are generally three big dates in the celebration. May 1st, party night in which all russ are ‘christened’ with their personalised russ names written on their caps; May 16th, which is the second biggest party night before the events of the next day; and May 17th, where the russ march in their own parade, wearing the overalls, driving their cars and buses, and generally makes a lot of disturbances. The russ presidents hold speeches at the town hall once the parade is over.
The are different colours on the overalls. Red is the most common, used by student that are finishing three years of general studies. Blue is the second most common, worn by student on the vocational school, who has taken a third year with general studies to earn
their university admission certificates. Black is worn by those who have only taken their two years of vocational studies, with the year of general studies. There’s also other colours, but they’re a lot rarer than the three “main” ones.
The russ also gets knots in their caps by doing different dares. For example, if a russ spends a night in a tree, they get a stick from the tree or if they spend a school day crawling on hands and knees they earn a toy shoe. There are other russ knot examples not as innocent, such as to have sex in the woods, have sex with 17 different people in the 17 different days of the celebration, have sex with the russ president, etc.
Most russ also have personalised cards featuring their name, photograph and a slogan. These are swapped with other russ, or given to children (they like to collect them) and family members.
The russ celebration is a long standing tradition and major cultural phenomenon in Norway. Apart from being the celebration of the imminent end of 12 or 13 years of co schooling, it’s also a rite of passage into adulthood, as well as a farewell to classmates from upper secondary school. Student will go their separate ways once school is over in search of jobs or higher education. This celebration is this an extremely important period in the lives of most Norwegian adolescents.
The celebration is optional, but there are few student who do not participate in any way, though the extent of involvement varies individually. These seventeen days are often referred to, aside from “russefeiring”, as the “treukersfylla” (“the three week binge”), as russ are out partying and drinking most nights. During this period, it is very common for students to show up hung-over at school, and many even skip school altogether, even with the impending exams coming up in June.
This is a very simplistic view on the russ celebration, as there’s a lot more to it, but I think I have mentioned the most important points. (And if anyone wonders, I was a red russ, but I only participated in that I wore the red trousers. I didn’t go out partying!)