Norway’s Russ tradition: overalls, cards and parties!

Norway Russ

Tomorrow is 17th May, Norwegian National Celebration day. It’s also the end of a whole month of crazy partying and several years of preparation for the Russ. If you’ve seen those teenagers in mostly red overall or if your children have come back with red or blue business cards, here is what it’s all about!

What is a Russ?

A Russ is a student in its last year of high school. Based on the subjects he or she studies, he/she get dressed in different color overalls. Read on and learn your Norwegian colors with me :p

  • Red (rødruss)general studies: mathematics, physics, biology, history, literature, English etc…  In the French system, that would be Terminale S. In Australia and New Zealand those who pick the Asian 5 would be red too. This is by far the most common colour.
  • Blue (blåruss): economy administration In the French System, that would be your Terminale ES.
  • Black (svartruss): apprenticeship i.e.  electronics, carpentry or culinary programs etc…
  • Green (grønnruss): agricultural courses, also used by some as an alternative to orange russ.
  • Golden Russ: there are only a few per council, a handful in Oslo and they are ultimate masters of partying (and mischief) having passed 100 raunchy and alcohol related tests.
  • Pink Russ: school drop-outs who are Russ age and want to join the party!

What are Russ cards?

Purpose of a Russ card

They are simply like business cards allowing Russ to share their contact details with other Russ they would meet over their month long party season.

Anatomy of a Russ card

  • The background colour is that of your Russ overall
  • Picture on the left: we’ve seen baby pictures, dressed up pictures and more or less politically correct ones. The ones with blow up dolls and the like have suddenly disappeared from our kids collection 😉
  • Title at the top: name of your school
  • Info to the right: first name, last name, address, phone number
  • Bottom right: a joke, a quote or something funny about yourself. I’ve personally seen a lot of alcohol related topics there…


 Russ Norway

Why do young children chase Russ?

My kids came back from school one day around mid April talking about those Russ and Russ cards. I had no idea what it was and thought it had something to do with Russia (<— just watched the Eurovision 2016 2 days ago). In fact it has become a sports for young kids from 6 years old to collect those cards. To make it happen, big myths are spread like ” who ever gets the most cards wins an XBox” <roll eyes>. Personally I find it fun because it gives my kids confidence to go and talk to teenagers, not just those at the French school but also those in the streets, on the bus… makes them feel confident and speak English 😉

Apparently the way it all started is that Russ teens would get their younger siblings to get cards for them or to give some to other Russ they might be too shy to approach?

Well as a result I’ve got Russ cards everywhere in the house, in my pockets and the kids pockets. And tomorrow, all this will stop and 2016 Russ cards will lose all their value!


Norway Russ card

The Russ business

You’d be disappointed if I didn’t drop a couple of cost and $$ here and there right? You’ve already suffered too much waiting a whole month between my last few posts <grin> so here it is.

Russ invest up to a couple of 100,000kr (10,000 euros) for the occasion

Funny, my babysitter was telling that some start working small jobs to gather 40,000kr to chip in and purchase bus. Then my boss laughed at me and said some put in hundreds of thousands Kroners as they need to pay for:

  • a big bus
  • an epic sound system
  • alcohol to keep them going for a whole month
  • Russ card, that come in a minimum of 600 per pack


How about end of high school exams?

In the French System, your end of high school is very important and determines the quality of the university you will attend. Same for Australian’s HECS. It seems like in the Norwegian system, it’s not all about that end of year exam but the marks you get during your curriculum count as much, hence less pressure to study and prepare.


My source is my baby sitter who himself is a Russ as well as my boss who used to be a Russ a couple of decades ago 😉 For a lot more details in English you can go to Wikipedia’s Russfeiring page.

To have a feel of all that’s going on, parties schedule, merchandise shop etc… here is the real deal:



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