28 April 2008

Russ celebrations - Norway at its best

I've mentioned russ a couple of times in my posts, so I thought I'd better give you a full and detailed account of what exactly russ are.

According to Wikipedia, the tradition goes back to the time when there were no universities in Norway (in other words, before 1811). Norwegians who wanted to study had to go to Copenhagen (I wonder how 18th century Danish bureaucracy was compared to modern Dutch bureaucracy, lol). They took entrance examinations and then put horns on their heads which they weren't allowed to take off before they got their exam results (and passed). Apparently, the word 'russ' comes from cornua depositurus, 'bound to put aside one's horns'.
Modern Norwegian russ celebrations started in 1905, which was also when the russ caps were first used. Russ are now students in their last year of high school. Back in the good old days exams were held around 10. May, and then the russ would celebrate for a few days afterwards, until 17. May, which is Norwegian Constitution Day.
Well, in the 70s some bright politicians thought the partying was getting out of hand and decided to move the exams 'till after 17. May so that the russ would spend more time studying and less time drinking. Needless to say, it didn't work. Today, russ celebrations start sometime during the first days of May or the last days of April, and last until 17. May, with exams shortly afterwards (yaaaaay...).

There are different types of russ, depending on your high school course, and each type has its own colour. Allmennruss (general studies) have red as their colour, the others are hardly worth mentioning since they're not half as cool as the red russ. All right then. Blue is for economics, black for vocational courses, green for agricultural studies.
Russ wear uniforms in their respective colours. The uniform consists of a pair of trousers, a russ cap (more about that later) and in Trøndelag also a long white coat (like a lab coat) which is then decorated.

So what do russ do? Well, we (yes, obviously I'm a russ this year, or I wouldn't be writing this) celebrate. I have no idea what we celebrate, though. Russ time is an excuse to do things which you couldn't (or wouldn't) do normally. Like talking to brick walls, camping on roundabouts or having a pet can of tuna (maybe that's what Merula's been doing...)
For these things you get awarded: a small item (simply called a knot) is tied to the russ cap (it's got a long string attached to it). Every school makes its own 'knot rules'. You can get knots for everything from public nudity and showing up drunk at school to going swimming (in the fjord) in April and spending a night in a tree.

Then there are the russ vans (or buses, if you live in Oslo and have rich parents, lol) and the russ cards (which kids collect).

To the right is my russ card (the cap I'm wearing is the russ cap).

Below is the back of my russ coat.

'Pholloruss' simply means 'russ from Phollo'. The place where my school is built is called Follo (it used to be a farm), but the russ have always spelt it Phollo.

And the front of my coat...

I've got Snoopy at his typewriter, a Roman legionary from Asterix, an ethanol molecule, the four Led Zeppelin symbols, Pink Floyd's refracting prism, a Kvikk Lunsj (Norwegian KitKat, just ten times better) and in the place of honour (on the back) Findus.

It took me hours and hours, but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I just need to put something on the sleeves, it looks weird now.


Kirsten Campbell said...

Love the coat! Russ sounds like a heck of a lot of fun, 'cept I doubt I'd be feeling up to exams afterwards! :)

Heh. I have that Si hoc legere scis... legend on a plaque my parents got me for Christmas.

Gabriele C. said...

That's a more fun way to celebrate the end of high school than here. German kids only get drunk, without trying to be intelligent or at least funny about it. :)

Celedë Anthaas said...

Getting drunk is for many an important part of russ celebrations as well. We were 'baptised' in beer two days ago :P