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Russ passing by the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway

Russ (singular and plural) is a participant in the traditional norwegian videregående skole (equivalent to high school) graduation ceremony known as russefeiring (russ celebration). Russ are easily recognized by their distinctive overalls and caps (russeluer) resembling student caps. Tradition dictates that they wear the overall and the cap from the 1st to the 17th of May without interruption (except when sleeping), without washing any of them. Russ commonly drive cars, vans or buses painted in the same colour as their overalls and caps, often sporting large sound systems or lighting rigs.



The word russ is inherited from the Danish word rus, which as an abbreviation of Latin rusticus ("rural"), in former times used to ridiculize new students at a university. A more elaborate explanation claims the word comes from the Latin phrase cornua depositurus, which means "bound to put aside one's horns". This phrase is the name of an old, Danish university acceptance ceremony, the name of which was eventually simplified to just the last syllable.

In Norway, an extra s has been added in order to make the word compliant with modern Norwegian spelling rules, which dictate that a short vowel should be indicated by a following double consonant. It is also to conveniently separate it from "rus", which in both Norwegian and Danish also means "intoxication".


The tradition goes back to the 1700s, at a time when no universities existed in Norway, and Norwegians would attend the University of Copenhagen to study alongside Danish students. Arriving at the university, students had to pass the Examen Artium in order to be enrolled. After completing their examinations, horns were placed on their foreheads and they were ridiculed by older students. When the results from the exams were ready, the students would participate in a ceremony called Examen Depositiones, in which they were called up to the examinator; if they had passed the test, their horns would be removed, as a sign of wisdom and subjugation of the wild animal within. From that point, the young persons had the right to call themselves students.

Russ attire

Tradition dictates that each russ wears an overall during the entire russefeiring (russ celebration period). The colour of the overall should match the graduate's line of study: Red for courses that are geared towards higher education (this is the most common colour), blue for courses in Business (also higher education in economics and management), white for Medical and social studies , black for Engineering (such as mechanics or electrics), and green for agricultural fields. The two latter colors are rarely seen due to the lower student numbers in such courses.

Overalls are unisex, and usually available in two versions, one full overall (with arms), and one resembling dungarees. Which of the two versions are more popular varies from year to year. Currently, the dungaree version is most popular due to influence from american rap culture.

On the morning of the national day the attire is completed by the ceremonial addition of the russelue (russ cap), which evolved from the traditional student cap used for university acceptance and graduation ceremonies. The ceremony involves the christening of the graduate, in which the graduate is awarded a name by his or her fellow graduates which, in their opinion, either characterizes an aspect of the graduate's normal behaviour, or the one exhibited during the russefeiring. This name is written on the brim before the cap is handed over. The cap should match the overall in colour, and should be worn for the entire national day, which completes the russefeiring. This way, the russ' attire is complete before they join the local national day parade, which is the culmination of the russefeiring.

Other common russ paraphernalia is the whip and the whistle. The whip was originally a birch twig, but is now often purchased and made from bamboo or plastic. It is used for banging things (such as the russ' car) rhytmically while chanting slogans in the 17th of May parade. The whistle resembles a common sports whistle, and is also used to make noise in the parade.

Over the years the russefeiring has become big business, and therefore there are a number of companies providing a plethora of optional paraphernalia for russ to purchase, such as t-shirts, sweaters, baseball caps, and so on.

Russ cards

Russ cards (russekort) are mock business cards that the russ will hand out to anyone that asks for them. They contain a picture, contact details, and a slogan. Usually the picture is either a funny picture of the graduate him or herself, or a drawing, picture of a celebrity, or other funny picture. The name and contact details are usually spoofs, and the slogan is a joke.

Russ will exchange such cards for fun and to remember other russ they are introduced to during the festivities. Having a large collection of other russ' cards is a status marker, as it is regarded as a sign of popularity, especially cards from members of the opposite sex. Since the extensive festivities of the russefeiring is an excellent opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex, it is common for the cards to sport lewd jokes or suggestive remarks.

However, such cards are also very attractive to preschoolers and primary school kids, who collect them and barter them. This has lead some parents to speak out against lewd content on russ cards. As a consequence, a few russ carry two sets of cards: One designed for kids, and one designed for adults and other russ.

See also

  • Russefeiring
  • Studenten, the related (but very different in character) Swedish graduation party.
  • Rus, the related, but less extensive Danish graduation ceremony.
  • The student cap, which in many countries is worn by graduating students, and from which the russ cap originated.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Diminutive of Russell.

Proper noun




  1. A nickname for Russell

See also


  • Anagrams of rssu
  • USSR

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