Monday, 20 May 2013

Russ

Three blue Russ during the children's parade
When I went to high school back in the 20th century, the last day official schoolday before exams was spent dressing up. For some reason the good people who had organised it, had not really been very inventive and just used the same theme from the year before. Since I had never really been involved very much in extra curricular activities, I didn't join in. A few weeks later the exams started and after a few more weeks of waiting I got the news: I had passed. High school was over and I never looked back.

A red Russ leading a marching band during the adult parade.
They would normally be dressed in the official uniform.
Then, lots of years later I moved to Norway. And in Norway they do it a bit differently. But for that I need to explain a bit more about the school system here. School only starts at the age of six. You go to a school called a 'barneskole', which would be comparable to primary schools and you go there until you are thirteen: classes 1 to 7. After barneskole (literally children's school) you go to 'ungdomskole' (youth school or lower high school) until you're sixteen: classes 8 to 10. After that you need to learn some more and you go to 'videreg√•ende skole' (literally further going school or upper high school) for a further three years: classes VG1 to VG3 until you're nineteen. 

The blue Russ passing
At the end of all that you are called a Russ. Nothing to do with Russians, but it does have something to do with an old habit they had in Kopenhagen and the only place Norwegians could get a higher education back in the day. It's like a hazing in reverse. Anyway, on May 17th, the national holiday all those Russ come out. In force! The night before is spent partying by most. Since the legal drinking age in Norway is 18 and most are over that age by the time they are Russ... you fill in the dots. 

A red Russ van
Most towns have three different parades on May 17th: the children's parade in the morning, the adult parade in the afternoon and the last one is the Russ parade. In Haugesund it was the shortest parade, but it was also the loudest! Most use whistles, they have the Russ song of the year blaring out of the red or blue vans they use and there is much screaming, yelling and other general noisy stuff. 

The film shows the blue Russ only. Blue Russ study at a economics based high school. Red Russ study at a general based high school. There are also green Russ which study at a nature based high school, but we don't have that one in Haugesund, so only red and blue here. All Russ wear a red or blue pair of dungarees. This year was a pair of dungarees, last year it was overalls. You customise your dungarees to your liking: name, flag, buttons and other stuff. In addition to that all Russ have business cards with the name of their school, their photo (mostly silly poses) and a fantastic made up name. The weirder the better. Those cards are highly collectable among school children and they try to get as many as they can.

I hope they do as well in their exams as in this parade!

3 comments:

  1. I bet everyone went home with a headache! I love your new header - those children look adorable.

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  2. Norwegians certainly love their parades.

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  3. They sure do know how to party. I love the traditions they have!

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