Those who are new to Norwegian tradition may have noticed some bizarre sights happening in late Spring, mostly on 17th May. Teenagers are wearing strange and visually appalling clothes, party busses cruising the roads, and playing loud music while consuming large amounts of alcohol.
However, there is no need to feel worried because all these events are part of Norway’s annual celebration for high school graduates or russefeiring.
But how can these kids afford nearly a month-long celebration followed by expensive cars, busses, food, costumes, and liquor?
Well, we come to another part of Norwegian tradition called dugnad russ, or in plain English fundraising. This article will explain how teenagers and graduate student in Norway come up with different ideas to fundraise money and organize a spectacular celebration right before exams.
The history of Russ
It all dates back to 1905 when red caps were used as a sign of acceptance into the system of higher education. The students were inspired by German students who, in 1904, wore red hats when they came to Norway.
A couple of years ahead, in 1916, students of economics started wearing blue caps as a sign of recognition from the ordinary graduates. Later on, these events gradually extended, more colors were added, while caps were saved for the final day of celebration.
Also, students from vocational courses were allowed to participate in the celebration, while in the last couple of decades, this became an overall celebration of all graduate, high school students.
Back in the 70s, there was a tradition of buying an old van or a bus. Students used to paint the vehicles in the same colors as the russebukse, which became a tradition to this day.
They are now mobile parting units, and teenagers use this space to listen to music, have fun, and enjoy booze.
Additionally, over the years, this became a serious partying business. These vehicles now feature strong lights and speakers, so they are practically nightclubs on wheels. On the other hand, students aren’t driving busses or vans; instead, they have to hire a sober driver.
Since all these activities are costly, groups of students gather around and discuss how they are going to afford everything. One of the easiest ways is to apply for sponsorships, which logos will appear on the buses, while others create high-school newspapers, which are mostly satirical.
How they come up with the money?
Well, Norwegian students are quite resourceful when it comes to money. They are organizing various fundraising events to attract potential sponsors.
Also, many of them are selling toilet paper, greeting cards, firelighters, socks, and other products, to gather enough money to cover the costs.
More often than not, friends and family members participate in such activities to help students rent or buy a bus and pay for costumes, and drinks. On the other hand, some of the students even save for years and prepare in advance to be able to afford this celebration.