Clowns for a Whole Month – Norwegian High School Graduates

russen i 1915

1915: The Russ is celebrating their graduation in a slightly more proper way

For many Norwegians, May is the best month of the year. The weather is getting brighter after a long and hard winter. It also contain many vacation days: May 1st is the international Labour Day, May 17th is the Norwegian National Day, followed by Pentecost and Ascension Day.

For the annual high school graduates, May is like heaven when they become ‘Russ’. The entire month is dedicated to jokes and pranks, a celebration of having completed 13 years in school. People often associate their celebration with loud music and drinking in the streets combined with strange actions that allows the Russ to put caps, ice-lollies and other accessories in the fringe of their hat – ‘russelua’. They wear a certain costume on which they write greetings and other prints to each other.

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russetogThe modern Russ celebrate their graduation wearing either a red or blue uniform with the typical russelue – the hat.

The word ‘russ’ comes from the last syllable of the Latin ‘Coruna Depositurus’, which means to put down the horns. An old German custom was that a craftsman apprentice received a hat with horns on his head, and before he could become a journeyman, the horns had to be removed. To ‘put down the horns’ or ‘run from the horns’ means that you had to ‘put away the animal inside yourself and become a decent human’.

Today’s Russ are both seen and heard in the streets from late April until the National Day on May 17th. At that time, they should have ‘put away the animal inside’ through strange actions like crawling in the streets, sleeping in trees, run many laps in a roundabout and kiss a police officer or teacher – often under the influence of alcohol.

After these happy days, it’s back to school to sit the final exam. Let’s hope that the celebration wasn’t too hard on their brains.

We wishes them a great time – and encourage them to take care of each other during the festivities!

Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Photos: On top: unknown, below: Stein Beyer-Olsen

Categories: Quirky

1 reply


  1. Germ Magazine | Big Day

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