Posted by: Sarah | September 5, 2009

Graduation With A Difference…

Last Friday we went out to dinner with friends and they told us about a a graduation ceremony that takes place in Norway for all those that are finishing High School.  It’s more commonly known as “Russefeiring” and it’s really quite unlike anything we had ever heard of before!!!!

A Russ (someone who is graduating) is easily recognisable.  From 1st May to the 17th May (Russ period) everyone who is graduating will wear bright red overalls.  They wear them every day, including weekends, and do not wash them for the entire period. 

But this isn’t all the Norwegians do when they graduate…read on…

The Russ Vehicle:russebusser

Groups of “Russ’s” get together and buy a van or a bus (yes, a bus!!!!)…paint it…fix it up with a pumping sound system and lighting rigs…stock it with beer…hire a driver and tour around Oslo getting drunk every night during the Russ period, whilst still trying to attend school each day.   Apparently some of the more affluent graduates spend up to £100k on revamping these vehicles!

Russ Cardsruss-kort

Each Russ makes a mock business card “Russekort” and will give them to anyone who asks for them.  They contain a picture, contact details (normally spoof) and a joke.  Apparently, such cards are also very popular with primary school kids, who collect them and barter them.

Russ Attireruss468_447910b1242585075

The overalls come in different colours – depending on the course the Russ has taken:

  • Red is for general higher education courses (most common)
  • Blue is for Business courses
  • White for Medical and social studies
  • Black is for Engineering (such as mechanics or electrics)
  • Green for agricultural fields

Russ Capsrusscap

On the final day (17th May – National day in Norway) they wear their caps (or russelue) which match the colour of their overalls.  During the Russ period, they earn objects that can then be tied into their hat.  The object depends on what they achieved and must be witnessed…here are some examples of what they have to do!

  • For a Single Knot: 24 hours without sleep
  • For a Bow: 72 hours without sleep
  • For a Ruler: Sit under your desk for an entire lecture
  • For a Popsicle Stick: Swim in the ocean before May 1st
  • For a Beer Bottle Cap: Drink a case of beer (24 x 0.33 L) in 24 hours
  • For a Piece of Chalk: Kiss a teacher
  • For a Plastic Champagne Glass: Stand up every 5 minutes during a lecture and shout “Cheers!”
  • For a Red “L” on a White Background: Put an “L” sign on a police car
  • For a Piece of a Burger Wrapper: Eat a whole burger in 2 bites
  • For a Happy Meal Toy: Drive through the drive-thru at McDonalds in a shopping trolley and order a Happy Meal
  • For a Thermometer: Swim in the sea before April 1st
  • For a Kebab Wrapper: Mix a whole Kebab in a blender and drink it

History of Russ

This is so unique to Norway that I had to research this tradition.  According to Wikipedia “Russefeiring” goes back to the 1700s, at a time when no universities existed in Norway and Norwegians would attend the University of Copenhagen. 

Arriving at the university, students had to pass the Examen Artium in order to be enrolled. After completing their exams, horns were placed on their foreheads and they were ridiculed by older students. When the results from the exams were ready, the students would participate in a ceremony called Examen Depositiones, in which they were called up to the examinator; if they had passed the test, their horns would be removed. From that point, the young persons had the right to call themselves students.


  1. […] 17th also marks the end of Russ.  This means that even if you are in the band and stand out like a sore thumb you are not wearing […]

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