As all Norwegians know: everyone else just wishes they were Norwegian. (Yes, even you, Swedes and Danes. You know you want to, deep down).
So, here is a handy guide on how and what to do if you want to be more like the Norwegians.
1 Own at least one Norwegian flag. Ideally, have a drawer full of flags. In fact, the more flags you own, the more Norwegian you are. Stick little flags in all your food, too.
2 Norwegians are born with skis already on their feet. Uncomfortable for the mothers, but useful once they learn to stand up and navigate down snow covered mountains. If you can’t ski, don’t move to Norway.
3 Own at least one hi-tech brightly coloured jacket to protect you from the elements. Wear this jacket every day, in any weather. Norwegians refer to such jackets as “All Weather Jackets” (allværsjakke). These are extremely practical, if a little bright. Yes, people on the moon can also see you.
4 When having a conversation, about anything, make sure to say ‘ikke sant’ a lot. It’s a bit like English speakers using ‘right’. Depending on your intonation, ‘ikke sant’ can mean a range of different things, including but not limited to:
- Ikke sant. Yes, I agree
- Ikke sant? Do you agree?
- Ikke Sant! YES
- Ikke SANT? You’re kidding?!
- Ikke sant. Yes, yes.
- Ikke sant…? Really?
- Ikke sant?! I hear you.
(illustration: Jenny K Blake)
5 Say Yes in English (but spell it jess).
6 Say ‘Ja’ (yes) on the inhale.
7 Never, ever, admit to a Swede being better than a Norwegian at anything. ANYTHING. Especially not skiing. Sweden will never be better than Norway at anything (apart from the price of everything -but of that you shall never speak openly).
(Footnote: Denmark will never be better than Norway at anything. Apart from its easy availability of booze, which you can talk about).
8. If you live close to the Swedish border, drive across the border on meat-safari (fleskesafari). This is because everything is cheaper in Sweden, especially meat. Also known as a Harry-Tur (Harry trip).
9 You will realise there is a sausage for every occasion. It’s called Pølse. Travelling by train? Have a pølse. In the airport? Have a pølse. Watching the footy? Have a pølse. Celebrating the day Norway got its own constitution? Pølse.
Depending on your mood, you can either have it in a hotdog bun (novice) or be really Norwegian and stick it in a potato pancake called Lompe.
10 If a Swede beats a Norwegian at skiing it is always because of ‘Smørekrise’ (the way the skis are prepped, depending on conditions). It has nothing to do with the athletes themselves – only the faulty way in which the skis were prepared. Probably by a Swede.
11 Extra proud Norwegians own a National Costume. It’s called a Bunad. It’s made from wool and it’s itchy and heavy. It will keep you warm should it snow on National Day.
Usually given to people when they’re around 13-14 years old, these cost thousands of £ and for this reason, you would be better off not changing your size for the decades, until you can afford a new one.
12 Own at least one practical rucksack – and use it every day. It goes very well with your All Weather Jacket (see point 3).
13 If someone asks you how you are, you must be honest – and in great detail. Having a rubbish time? Elaborate on this – and do not under any circumstances try to make it less awkward.
14 Always bring a matpakke (packed lunch) when you leave the house. These little open sandwiches must be separated by little greaseproof pieces of paper that makes the cheese extra sweaty after a few hours in your backpack. Adventurous toppings need not apply: sweaty cheese, salami, maybe a bit of pate with one slice of cucumber (soggy).
The special piece of paper even has a name: middle-layering-paper.
15 Wear cool jumpers. Perfect for occasions such as being in temperatures of -20, Eurovision, fishing and crossing the border to acquire meat. Caution: Itchy.
16 In autumn, winter, summer and Easter time, never ever go hiking without a Kvikklunsj chocolate bar in your bag. You must also bring one whole orange.
17 Avoid looking directly at your fellow citizens in all urban areas. That includes pavements, public transport and inside shops. Always keep a safe distance of at least 1 metre at bus stops.
If a stranger smiles at you on the street (or other urban areas) assume they are drunk or crazy. Look away immediately and do not engage.
18 When out on a hike, remember to say Hei hei to everyone. Just briefly, but this is when rule no. 17 does not apply.
19 Eat tacos every Friday. Yes, every Friday. The tex mex stuff in boxes you mix with real meat and then you do TacoFredag. Add cucumber, that essential Mexican ingredient.
20 As a Norwegian, you know the only true pizza is a Grandiosa frozen pizza. Love.
21 Go to your cabin – Dra på hytta – every weekend. Sure, you’ll spend 4 hours in your car each way to get there, but go, you must. If you don’t have a cabin near a fjord, go to your garden shed. Use motivating sentences such as ‘Ut på tur, aldri sur’ (literally: ‘out on a hike, never angry’).
22. Eat boiled sheep’s head, dried lamb sticks or cod preserved in lye.
And fermented trout – that you should also be down with.
23 Eat brunost. Enthuse about brunost. Live the brown cheese life.
Brown cheese. It’s the food of the gods, the cheese of the people. It’s made from goat’s milk and it looks like Plastacine and tastes of caramel. You put it on waffles. What’s not to love?
24. Eat waffles, loads of waffles. These must be made in a special heart-shaped waffle maker. Ensure that in your fridge you have ready-to-waffle mixture in a jug (at all times).
Top waffles with brown goat’s cheese or jam with sour cream. Or all three things, why not? Even more Norwegian-ness right there.
25 As soon as the sun comes out, run outside and smile yourself silly. Have utepils. Do not, under any circumstances, stay inside on a sunny day.
26 Utepils is any beer that is drunk, sitting outside – literally ‘outside-beer’. From now on, your life revolves around the possibility of Utepils.
27 .Every summer, you must travel to Syden and get a sunburn.
Syden means ‘the south’ – and means anywhere south of your home town (but usually excludes Scandinavia).
28 Drink a lot of coffee. And milk. A glass of milk with every meal for extra Norwegian-ness.
29 Always say Takk for maten (thanks for the food) after food, or mamma will be most upset. Every meal, every time.
30 Celebrate Norway’s national day on 17th May. No exceptions, no matter where you are in the world.
You are proud of Norway. The 17th May is the most important day of the year, better than Christmas, birthday and Eurovision put together. The Norwegian Constitution Day is a day celebrated by all Norwegians and Norgesvenner.
Get up, eat Norwegian food, wear a bunad (see above), sing songs about how much you love Norway. Wave flags around a lot. Ice cream. Waffles (see above). Brown cheese (see above). Repeat. Follow with alcohol (possibly purchased in Sweden). Forget how you got home, but wake up loving Norway even more than you did before.
Happy 17th May.