Independence day - 17th of May.
The Independence day in Norway is on the 17th of May and is called Norway´s Constitution day. This dates back to the 17th of May 1814 when Norway´s constitution was signed at Eidsvoll. Norway then got full independence in 1905.
A big part of the celebrations is the children´s parades. 60.000 children from ca 100 schools show up in groups carrying a flag. They start at 10:00 by Youngstorget, go to Karl Johans gate by the Cathedral and join the Oslo parade of ca 100.000 people, a large part of which are dressed up in beautiful national costumes - it is pure delight watching them and joining them. But it gets very crowded. The Oslo parade marches up to the Palace, where the Royal family greets the nation from the balcony. I got to the Palace at ca 14:30 and everything was in full swing by then. The parade ends up at the City Hall square.
It had been raining for several weeks while I was visiting in 2012, but on 17th of May it was sunny part of the day, fantastic as it would sure have ruined the day if it would have been raining cats and dogs. So I had a fantastic time joining the Norwegian nation in their celebration. The Norwegians are not the most "open" people, but on this day everybody is smiling and happy. So if you are ever in Oslo on the 17th of May do join the Norwegians in the celebrations. I bought a Norwegian flag at Elkjöp for NOK 10, but in many places down-town they were sold at NOK 50, so better get one a couple of days earlier. The Norwegian flag is just like the Icelandic, the colours have just been switched - and my ancestors came from Norway anyway, so I felt like I was celebrating in my cown country ;)
The celebrations are broadcast live on telly for those who cannot participate or live far away from Oslo.
Independence day in Grünerløkka - 17th of May.
After taking part in the festivities down-town we went to Grünerløkka and as always this area was filled with people. Brennerveien 9 by Ingens gate was crowded (I have never seen it empty) and further on in Grünerhagen park there were a LOT of people drinking and having fun. There was a Jamaican concert there, extremely good, and on the square there were lots of booths with food from different cultures.
So it is well worth it walking up to Grünerløkka after taking part in the festivities down-town and then head on to Grönland - or maybe vica versa. But I was not into staying there for too long as the drinking was getting a bit out of hand and there was litter all over the place.
Independence day in Grönland - 17th of May.
There is so much fun on the 17th of May in Grönland, where many of the "invandrere" live and for whom 17th of May is not their national holiday. But the nations have integrated and the inhabitants of Grönland celebrate for 3 days with funfair and with stalls all along the main street, which is closed for the occasion. There you can buy food from all over the world, China, Turkey, Arabian food etc, ready made on the spot.
And there are some stalls selling other stuff as well, it is a pure multicultural market feeling reminding me of London.
The stalls are closed at 20h and on the first day we arrived there at 20:05 when everything was closing, so we were happy to see that the fun went on for 2 more days. But the funfair is open much longer.
Russene - The Graduates.
Now this is something I have not seen in other countries I have visited, or maybe I was just lucky to be here in May when this tradition takes place. All over town I saw youngsters in funny bib jeans, most of the red with some letters on them, but some of them were black. The marathon in Oslo had just taken place and I thought this outfit had something to do with the marathon. Live and learn, as for a whole month these bib jeans´wearing youngsters were everywhere. And they are not quiet, that is for sure ;)
Russene are the graduands and they party for a month, hire a bus and drive around with loud music and drink - a lot! I have heard that it gets very expensive carrying out this tradition and that you either have to have rich parents or take a loan in your bank...
This tradition started in 1700 something. Back then there wasn´t a university in Oslo so Norwegians had to study at the university in Copenhagen. To be able to go to the university there the students had to pass an exam "artium". After the exam other students fastened a horn on their forehead and made fun of them (a similar tradition takes place in Iceland as well). If you passed the exam then the horn was removed, as a sign of knowledge. The word "russ" derives from the latin expression "comua deposituRUS" or to lay down the horns.
The current tradition dates back to 1905 when russene started wearing read caps in the schools in Kristiania (Oslo). The blue caps date back to 1916. And the black trousers? The tradition is that red russene graduate from high-school but blue/black russene graduate from trade school.
The culmination and "finish" of the russ-celebration is on the 17th of May, on the National holiday of Norway. Then you will see hundreds of russ in the streets handing out their personal cards to small kids. I saw so many kids asking russene for these cards, it was quite cute seeing those small kids venturing up to russene and timidly asking if they had personal cards to give to them. One small guy was not so timid though, after the russ gave him his personal card the kid threw it at him again rudely yelling at him that he had got this card already!
One night we wanted to drive up to Holmenkollen from the town of Ski (28 km away from Oslo) but as we had almost reached Holmenkollen the police blocked the road and turned all the cars around telling them that russene were up there.
Around 42.000 students finish high school every year in Norway so you can imagine the fun they are having for a month or more all over Norway :) And this kind of behaviour, like getting drunk during the day, making loud noises, driving around in a multi-coloured bus with blaring music is actually accepted here. I was reading in one newspaper how come this tradition became so readily accepted. I have nothing against it, I acutally thought this gave a bit of colour to a very grey and rainy month of April and May here in Norway.
I found some of the russe cards on the ground and there it said "Russe service" a tradition from 1982.
Making a barbeque in the parks.
This is the first time I have seen so many people making a barbeque in the parks. It looks like it is a tradition here and on sunny days the parks can get filled with smoke. It is of course lovely to see so many people making a barbeque on a small disposable grill.
There are special bins in the parks just for throwing away the disposable grills, which most people are using. Some of them are using small multi-use grills, but most of them are using the disposable grills. I have seen this in every park I visit and many times have I had to leave the park as somebody sat right in front of me and lit up a grill with smoke going right in my face.
Most of the people making a barbeque put the grill on a rack to prevent the grass from scorching, but some of them put the grill straight on the grass leaving an ugly scorching ground beneath. This kind of disrespect for the nature gets on my nerves, as it doesn´t take much time or effort to bring along a small rack for the grill.
Anyhow if you want to spend a sunny day in the parks be aware of this, that you might have to change places several times because of the smoke.
Vinmonopolet - The State owned liquor stores.
Buying alcohol in Norway is not easy, as it were. You can only buy alcohol in the Vinmonopolet, which are State owned liquor stores. And they are not always open. They close at 15h on Saturdays and are not open on Sundays.
You have to be 18 to be able to buy beer and vine in Norway, but 20 to buy alcohol with more than 22% alcohol strenght. Well, in Iceland you have to be 20 to buy alcohol, so we are kind of used to this. Alcohol prices are steep here in Norway, but for us Icelanders that is nothing new. But in comparison to other countries the price is very steep. Well, Norway is an expensive country anyway.
Beer is sold in the supermarkets and some alcohol mix, but after 18h one can not buy alcohol at the supermarket and they are very strict on this. We were going to buy some alcohol mix at 20h for a birthday party and "no", they took it away from us - grown up people! Who is in charge of these regulations and what is the point?
The opening hours are: 10-18 weekdays, Fridays 9-18 and Saturdays 9-15.
Kardemommeloven/ the Law of Cardamom
Is the informal etiquette for social behavior, first introduced by the author Torbjørn Egner in his child book (when the robbers came to Cardamom town»
The law is quite simple and liberal and goes like this:
Du skal ikke plage andre
(You should not bother others,)
Du skal være grei og snill
(You should be nice and kind),
Og for øvrig kan du gjøre som du vil
(Otherwise you can do as you please.)
I feel this law reflects all sides off our society
We are nice human being, and we expect anyone to behave in nice ways. We don’t believe in life time sentences, we send them to a cardamom prison , where they live in a nice little cell with free internet, television access, free education and cooking lessons. The Norwegian politicians believe in rehabilitation, instead of punishment (I don’t think it’s preventive)
The sanctions for Sexual crimes are ridiculously low. Recently a deaf rapist got his sentence reduced, as the court believed that he could not understand that his victim was screaming no. He thought that she said “yes” or “ok”.
After 22/7 we have realized that we have to reconsider our Cardamom philosophy and watch up for the outside world.
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Hilde's Norwegian course!
We all speak English here, so you don't need to speak Norwegian, but if you want to make a good impression, you should learn some basic word and phrases.
For more information about the Norwegian language, se my local custom tips...
Attractions sound file
åpningstider opening hours
kan vi se menyen? kan we see the menu?
kan vi bestille? can we order?
kaffe /te coffee/tea
med sukker uten sukker with sugar/ no sugar
med ost, uten ost with cheese, no cheese
geitost goat cheese
ta med /sitte her take away/ eat here
dagens middag today's special
barnemeny child menu
fisk kjøtt hamburger pomfri fish, meat, hamburger, pommes frittes
rømme sour cream
kan vi få regningen? can we have the bill (please)?
Har du noen rimeligere alternativer? Du you have something less expensive?
du skal ikke få noe tips! no tip for you!
enkeltbillett single ticket
månedskort month card
barn/voksen child /adult
billettkontroll ticket inspection /controll.
ruters reisegaranti Ruter's transport guarantee
and some words I hope you won't need
dette er et ran this is a robbery
Få pengene ellers skyter jeg, give me the money or I shoot. The robbers will often alter their dialect for not being recognized but we have yet to hear the New Norwegian version;)
er det en lege her ? is there a doctor (mp) here?
stygg ulykke/ terrible accident
vi trenger en ambulanse/ we need an ambulanse
ring 113 ( en, en tre) / call 113
masse blod/ a lot of blood
legevakt/sykehus/fastlege emergency building , hospital, general practitioner
han er død, han vil overleve he´s dead, he will survive
det brenner! , it¨a fire
brannvesenet/ fire department
The word "brann" means fire. But if you see some football supporters screaming Brann, it has to do with the football team from Bergen.
Krisesenter woman shelter
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Bokmaal,New Norwegian and our language conflict
New Norwegian (nynorsk) is one of the two official Norwegian language forms , and hardly any other part of our culture is filled with so much emotion and hate. Some people love nynorsk , others really hate is, and if you read some newspapers, the debate never ends. Should all the kids learn nynorsk at school, or should it be removed from the curriculum for non nynorsk students? At the university when a student has chosen nynorsk as its main language form, the teachers actually have to translate the tasks in to New Norwegian. They're obligated to do so by the law, but in most cases they don’t want to do this extra work and the New Norwegian students are furious. they protest but there are no serious consequences
Nynorsk is used by 10-15 percent of the population. A self-taught linguist called Ivar Aasen traveled around Norway in 1850, with the goal of making a new language form by using words from Norwegian dialects not influenced by Danish or Swedish. He wanted to preserve the Old Norwegian language. And then he introduced the «New Norwegian» dictionary. Some school kids have renamed it « New Norwegian murder list», or «mountain Latin.»
These municipalities have declared nynorsk as their official langaguage: Hordaland, Rogaland Sogn og fjordane and Møre og romsdal.
I think Nynorsk is a beautiful language, it's very lyrical but I can’t really understand why we all have to spend our school hours learning how to write it correctly, and that this subject should determine our future. Learning English and German at school is really enough. We all understand Nynorsk, but having to learn to write a dialect that I don't speak is kind of silly. And not least all the work, translating everything into Nynorsk for reading books, manuals and dictionaries. Even some of the subtitles in TV are in Nynorsk. I Feel really sorry for the foreigners living in Norway,It must be quite confusing.
The most frustrating part of Nynorsk is the grammar. The grammar is a bit different from standard Norwegian, the verbs are inflected in different ways, and the rules change every year, when a new dictionary is published. It’s very confusing. So when I was in High school and went for my Nynorsk exam I sat there with my dictionary for several hours, feeling like I was going insane by looking at the dictionary for every single word and I just could not remember how the verbs and nouns were inflected. And every year when a new dictionary was published, I had to see if there were some new rules I should know .
I remember a former classmate telling me that his definition of hell would be spending an eternity with Ivar Åsen, a Nynorsk task and a New Norwegian dictionary..
I'm not in high school anymore and I don't miss creating some New Norwegian paper work. I'm free at last
If there' are some New Norwegian fans here at VT', I'm in big trouble !
For those especially interested, the book "Fuglane" by Vesås, is in New Norwegian. I have no intention to read it, but you should tell me if I should reconsider it.
Deaf in Oslo (for those especially interested)
This sign means Deaf.
Norwegian sign language was a part of my bachelor program in special education and I wrote a bachelor assignment about deafness and sign language I have also been working for a deaf organization.
The Norwegian deaf population has probably 4000 users, but it's hard to estimate. Most deaf lives in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. Today 90% of all deaf infants receive Cochlear implants and attend main streaming programs. There are not many opportunities for kids who want to communicate in sign language and attend deaf sign language schools.
The Norwegian Sign language (NSL) is an independent language is an independent language and it's just as different from other sign languages than Norwegian spoken language differs from other oral languages.
Sign languages even have dialects. The deaf people in Trondheim use signs that differ from the sign language in Oslo and Bergen. According to some scientists, Norwegian sign language has more in common with French language that Norwegian, and a scientist even think it's more related to Chinese.
Many teachers for the deaf does not know enough sign language but they're still allowed to teach in sign language , cause we're in lack of deaf teachers with teacher education. In 1997 the deaf students got their own teaching plans and sign language was giving recognition as an independent language. It was estimated that the deaf students had the right to learn sign language at school and to have their teaching in sign language. %[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Sign_Language] British sign language
Lessons were given as an alternative and addition for spoken English, and it didn’t go that very well as the Norwegian deaf teacher didn’t know enough BSL in order to teach. So what next? German sign language?
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Strangers in the night
As a general philosophy we never talk to strangers. If a stranger suddenly invites to a small talk, that person is either:
1) A drunk
2) A foreigner who’s not been approximately assimilated to know when to shut up!
3) An extremely outgoing Norwegian ( who has probably spent some years abroad).
4) A mentally retarded person who just likes to talk.
Being a dog owner gives you an excellent opportunity to chat with other dog owners. But you should make sure you remember the appearance of the dog owner, in case you meet them without their dogs.
In remote places you are more likely to meet social Norwegians. We may be willing to say hallo, when you realize you’re completely lost 4 miles from civilization in Nordmarka. Some says that this social thing begins in Kikut.
In mountain areas, the greeting limit
starts when you have reached 250 metres above sea level, where the timberline stops.
we´re almost all taught to never leave the table without saying takk for maten ( Thank you for dinner)*. By learning to say this, a foreign guest will make a very good impression. We say a lot of "takk", but not so much unnskyld (sorry)
Just remember that this expression is only related to food.
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One thing that is often strange for foreigners is the custom of taking off your shoes in the hallway. This is for practical reasons, preventing the floors from becoming dirty especially in winter .if you're arriving a party with your party shoes you shouldn’t be thinking of taking them off unless they got dirty on your way there.
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the Law of Jante
Janteloven (The law of Jante" was written by the author Aksel Sandemose in 1933 and was first presented in his work " en flyktning krysser sitt spor" or in English : " A fugitive crosses his tracks". This unwritten law can tell us something about the humans inherent abilty to suppress each other down and their evilness which we were all born with according to Sandemose
The Law goes like this:
1. Thou shalt not presume that thou art anyone [important].
2 Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as us.
3.Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than us.
4. Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than us.
5. Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than us.
6. Thou shalt not presume that thou art more than us [in any way].
7. Thou shalt not presume that that thou art going to amount to anything.
8. Thou art not entitled to laugh at us.
9. Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.
10. Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything*
This is a very normal way for foreigners to see Norwegians. So for some people this filosophy rules in Norway. There's not enough room for individuality. Vi are group people not individuals.
So very often people who's want do be different from other people feel this unwritten law. You can't be too sucessful, earn to much money, send your kids to an expensive privat school without beeing critizied.
Bygdedyret is a local variant.
How to make Norwegian friends
In Oslo which is an established city you'll have to make an effort to make friends but it's not wise being too eager
What you should not say is "I want to be your friend can we meet tonight?"* . Then we'll run!!
You have to take it easy on us. Ask us about Norway (even things you already know). Compliment on our excellent English (even if you don't think it's that impressive) Try to see if you have something in common
Try some small talks at the beginning, and then you can try to move forward, maybe ask if they want to join you to a Cafe or something informal. Don't expect a home invitation.
You have to take the initiative but try not to be too intense even if it you're impatient. It can be quite a challenge.
I believe that the best way to get Norwegian friends is to join some kind of an organization. Trying to make friends without any connections can be very difficult. I'm an Oslo girl myself and all of my friends come from different kinds of groups, I didn't just meet them on the tram on my way to work.
Or if you just want to talk to the locals, you should invest in a small and quite puppy, or maybe a little pig. We love pets!
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