Norwegian traditions, and general culture, are the details that make the difference between a candidate adapted to live in Norway, and someone who is not. Knowing these details is crucial, so start today with a series of articles that we will call «The Norwegian traditions.».Read the Spanish version.
Matpakke – this word means literally food pack, and is more a lifestyle than food. The Norwegians use to eat their “matpakke” at lunchtime, around 11.30 and it consists basically of two or three slices of bread with ham, cheese, paté or whatever you like. Usually you put some tomatoes, cucumbers or pickles on top as well. This is the typical Norwegian lunch although over the past years it is changing a bit, substituted of a warm meal, a salad or other food. We eat lunch around 11.30 and leave work around 16.00, and eat a warm meal for dinner after that (dinner time varies a lot depending on cities, age, families), but usually we eat dinner between 16 pm and 19 pm.
Bunad - is the national costume of Norway and it is common to wear at various celebrations such as: folk dances, weddings, and especially the May 17th National Day celebrations. The “bunad” movement has its root in 19th-century national romanticism, which included an interest for traditional folk costumes. The designs are typically elaborate, with embroidery, scarves, shawls and handmade silver or gold jewellery known as “sølie”. There are “bunads” both for men and women, although women’s “bunads” are more diverse and popular.
Brunost (Geitost) – Means brown cheese or goat cheese. “Brunost” is made by boiling a mixture of milk, cream and whey carefully for several hours so that the water evaporates. The heat turns the milk sugar into caramel, which gives the cheese its characteristic brown colour and sweet taste. You usually eat it cold, cut in thin slices with an “ostehøvel” (see below for description) on top of toasted bread with some jam on top.
Binders – The Norwegians like to believe that we invented the paper clip, that it was invented by the Norwegian Johan Vaaler in 1899. But there seems to be several names involved. Some sources says that it was invented by the American Samuel B Fay in 1867 and others mentions that Erlman J. Wright invented another model, and that Vaaler never commercialized his clip, that it was produced by Gem Manufacturing. However, the Norwegians are proud of the fact that they “invented” the paper clip, and it became an important symbol for Norway during the Second World War. Patriots wore them in their lapels as a symbol of resistance to the German occupiers and local Nazi authorities when other signs of resistance.
Ostehøvel – the cheese slicer this is definitely a Norwegian invent. The knife for cutting the cheese into thin slices was invented by Thor Bjørklund in 1925. He was tired of how difficult it was to cut the cheese with a normal knife; therefor he invented the “ostehøvel” on a carpenter’s plane.
Hytte– The cabin is very important in Norway, one of two Norwegians owns or has access to a cabin. We use it to escape from the big city, the stress, enjoy the nature and relax. The Norwegians prefer to invest in a cabin rather than to buy expensive cars or big houses. The cabins used to be very simple, without gas, electricity or water, but nowadays they are more similar to a normal house and very well equipped. The activities we do while staying at the cabin, depends on the season, but skiing, biking, hiking, swimming or taking the boat for water skiing are some of them.
Janteloven – The Jante Law was created by the Dano-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose, who in is novel in 1933, A fugitive crosses his tracks, identified the law of Jante as ten rules. This law is generally used to describe a negative attitude towards individuality and success in Norway, to de-emphasize individual effort and discouraging those who stand out. It has affected and still affects the Norwegian society, in terms that it is important to be humble, modest and we do not like when someone thinks they are better than others. However, the youth has started to take distance from this law and does not accept that it is not “allowed” to be proud of your achievements.
The ten rules state:
You’re not to think you are anything special.
You’re not to think you are as good as us.
You’re not to think you are smarter than us.
You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
You’re not to think you know more than us.
You’re not to think you are more important than us.
You’re not to think you are good at anything.
You’re not to laugh at us.
You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
You’re not to think you can teach us anything.