Russefeiring is a long-standing tradition (introduced in 1905) and a major cultural phenomenon in Norway. Apart from being a celebration of the imminent end of 12 or 13 years of compulsory schooling, it has also become a rite of passage into adulthood, and a farewell to classmates from the videregående skole (upper secondary school) who will now go their separate ways in search for jobs or higher education. It is, therefore, an
important period in the lives of most Norwegian adolescents.
Russ is very easy to spot! If you are out and about in over the next few weeks, you are likely to come across teenagers dressed in colorful overalls, either dungarees or jumpsuits and possibly a russ cap. Russ wears their uniforms for the entire period of Russefeiring. The students customize their outfits with patches, stickers, paint, and embroidery.
Around Rogaland, red uniforms are the most common with blue next in number, however, you might also see come across white, black and green. The color of the uniforms usually reflects what type of study the person is completing (see below). However, in some regions such as Stavanger, the color is determined by the school. Typically, in these areas, if the headmaster of the school was a blue russ, the students
will also be blue regardless of what they are studying.
Red (rødruss): Allmennfag (general studies like mathematics, physics, biology, history, literature, English, etc); media and communication, art, music, dance and drama; and athletics. This is the most common color.
Blue (blåruss): Business Administration studies (Økonomi and Administrasjon)
The festivities start anytime between 5 April and May 1 (different dates for each city). On this date, Russ is allowed to put on their overalls, board their vehicles, and officially become Russ. From then on celebrations continue almost non-stop until 17 May (the national day). In the period, there are several Russetreff or russ meetings. At these events, ten thousands of Russ meet in an allocated area for one or more days.
There are concerts, bus competitions in several circles (bus with the best sound systems, best lighting systems, best design, the bus of the year and "Lord of the Rings", and the sale of beer and food).
One of the biggest Russetreff events is held here - Landstreff Stavanger at Kongeparken (3-5 May 2019). With over 30 artists from countries such as the USA, UK, Netherlands and, of course, Norway it will be a massive music festival. In Norway, most pupils turn 18 just before the Russefeiring. The age of 18 is both the age limit for buying alcohol and acquiring a driver's license. Therefore, the growing festivities also led to increased alcohol consumption, and in the 70's the tradition of buying old cars, vans, buses, and even lorries and painting them in the same colors as the overalls became common.
These cars would be extensively decorated and serve as mobile homes and party venues for the Russ during the Russ celebration. They would be outfitted with tables, chairs, bunk beds, sound and lighting systems, and melodic horns. These vehicles were named Russ cars (Russ cars). Over the 80's it became fairly common to rip the cargo beds off lorries and build log cabins on the frames instead. However, due to safety issues, this practice was banned during the early 90s. Also, regulations were introduced that required every Russ vehicle to have a designated non-Russ driver. This, together with the no-tolerance policy on alcohol consumption by drivers introduced in the late 90s, greatly reduced the number of accidents involving Russ vehicles.
Another element of Russefeiring is the optional dares! A list is published at the start of the celebrations detailing challenges. Successful completion of the challenges brings an award of a knot for the Russ cap. Examples of Russ this year include joining with 3 other Russ and earn 50 kroner at performing a musical show in central Stavanger, walking barefoot for 48 hours straight, sitting through an entire school hour wearing only underwear and optional headgear.
Many Russ has personalized calling cards (Russ cards) featuring their name, their photograph, and a short slogan. These cards are swapped with other Russ and handed out to children and family. To many children, collecting russ cards is an important activity during the entire Russ period, but especially May, culminating on May 17.
On 17th May, our Constitution Day, the Russ have their own special parade in Stavanger, usually scheduled after the Children's parade. The Russ parade is very lively with many Russ blowing whistles and is quite a sight to see. Then, 17th May over with, the students return to their studies for the run-up to exams.