A Norwegian Graduation Celebration

A Norwegian Graduation Celebration

A Norwegian Graduation Celebration

When I graduated high school, I partied with my friends for 3 weeks straight. We were up all night and sat under our desks at school. We rode around in party buses blasting music from speakers worthy of large concerts. We drank a lot and we truly celebrated that 13 years of school had finally come to an end.

For most people reading this article I must seem like a bad kid; Like a rebel who partied too much, who drank too much and who was uncontrollable. Except that this was the norm. This special, awesome graduation party is known as russetid, and it is how us Norwegians celebrate our graduation.

I want to remind everyone that the legal drinking age in Norway is 18, and that we have all reached this age by the time we graduate. So, as opposed to all the young people drinking illegally at or after their high school graduation in America, we do it perfectly legally. In fact, the police and security guards monitor us closely, making sure we are not a threat to our own or others’ safety. There have been incidents of course, but mostly the russ live in harmony alongside regular citizens.

In the United States, more or less everybody is still a minor at the time of their high school graduation. They can therefore not drink, and their parents are usually more involved still with what they do. I know that people do drink at their graduation parties here too, however I am under the impression that it is not as extravagant as the Norwegian russetid. Drinking during graduation from high school is obviously more hidden here too, as the police as well as most parents would react harshly if they found minors drinking.

Another major difference between the Norwegian and American graduation parties is that the Norwegian one is actually regulated by the government. The russ have certain rules and regulations they have to abide by, and there are certain rules they are exempt from. If American high school graduates are caught drinking, the police will stop them and contact their parents. Because of the grandiosity of the Norwegian celebration, however, the police contribute with security personnel and as mediators in any conflicts.

When we as russ are not riding our specially designed party buses around the towns and cities, we gather at major events or meets, called russetreff. I personally attended the two biggest ones, each gathering more than 10000 seniors to drink, party and dance all through the night. Different performers come to the stages to sing and set the mood, and the parties don’t close up until the morning hours. It is usually very expensive to buy drinks inside the venues, but you are allowed to bring your own alcohol and people do drink a lot. In fact, several ambulances are on alert at all times at these events to take care of all injuries ranging from broken bones to alcohol poisoning.

Another thing many Americans do as a part of their graduation is hold scavenger hunts in which they have to perform different tasks. Based on the circle of friends these can range from peaceful, fun activities such as finding an old baseball card, to more serious and illegal things like drinking, smoking or stealing. The Norwegian party also includes a scavenger hunt of sorts, where you collect different items for doing various deeds. In a way the scavenger hunt part of the celebrations isn’t too different in Norway and America, but we allow for a little more craziness as we are in fact of legal age at the time of graduation.

For most people around the world the russefeiring sounds insane. And the worst part: We haven’t even completed our final exams yet! If you think about telling your parents that you were going on a three-week long rave right before your final exams, what would they say? Exactly, but this is my culture. It might be mad, it might be a really bad idea but this bad idea has survived for over a century, and I am not one to wish it gone. The idea of dressing in red pants that don’t get washed for the entire three weeks (yes, it is disgusting but an unwritten rule states that you are not allowed to clean your russebukse for the entire period), staying up all night and drinking with my friends at huge parties still makes me excited. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but this is something you are only meant to experience that one time, and that’s what makes it so amazing.

I know my culture is crazy and a little irresponsible, but its mine and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It is just like yours, but we go all out.


I am a twenty-year old girl from Norway, currently studying at Pace University in Westchester, New York. I love to travel and to talk to people from different places and different backgrounds. When I was six years old my family spent one year in Prague, and in addition to teaching me good English skills this also made me determined to spend time living abroad later in life. My goal for the future is to work with diplomacy, either in the United Nations or as an ambassador. Besides my studies I like to get involved and stay busy and I am currently the president of the business society at my school in addition to being the treasurer of our speech and debate club. I also work in a business on campus which is completely student driven. 


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