Author Archives: pritzker

Norwegian Graduation Celebration

The tradition started in 1905 when Norway got its independence, and it’s sort of a combination of celebrating the end of high school and independence day (17th of May). Basically in their sophomore year or something, very early on in high school, kids get together in groups of like 20-30 girls and 20-30 guys and start saving money to buy a bus (party bus) in their senior year. Basically each group picks a project to work on over the two years that will help them raise enough money to do it (typically about 200,000 dollars per group.)
Not everyone does it, but a lot of kids do. And basically with these busses, you create your own theme so one bus could be called just weird names like sin city or vice city, or one bus could be called champions league and  umm and you renovate the bus create it and decorate it in your own theme by re decorating the whole inside, changing the seating, sometimes adding sofas in the bus, adding speakers, lights, bars, and some people put karaoke machines inside their bus, thats a new thing.
And basically then there are different competitions between busses: who has the best sound systems, exterior, interior, etc and the competitions are regional or countrywide.
I’m from east of Norway and its more of a cultural thing where I’m from, and most parts of the country if they can’t afford it do it with busses so they just do it with like minivans.
So then there’s different festivals around the country- these are called literally translated its called country meet ups and then the name of the place” and at these FESTIVALS (which last for like 2-4 days) have performances and concerts by artists, and the busses are all set up in the same huge space and the best busses usually have a large set up around their bus with light shows and a stage and you can imagine, and they are judged not only on the bus but also the set up. I would say they put a lot of money into the busses. Basically throughout high school each person ends up spending like about 7-12 thousand dollars on the whole thing.
And the festivals happen right before you graduate and they happen from like April 20th through sometime in May but not all at the same time, sort of spread out through that time period and all over the country. And then when the busses aren’t at their specific festivals they just get driven through the cities all month and the kids party on the bus.
Every bus also has a name that goes along with it’s theme and all the people on it have headbands with the name of the bus on it and wear them to the festivals to represent their busses. And each person also orders different colored pants, these are special pants, and you can have pants that could be a one pieces or suspenders like overalls that are called “russebukse” or anything like that and they’re usually either red, blue, green, or black, most popular are red and blue. It used to be based on your major or whatever you were planning to study after high school,  so IT and Media would have blue pants and general subjects would have red, and green would be if you were like doing agricultural stuff and black would be for those who were doing labor subjects (plumber).
I would say that graduating high school is a really special part of a teenagers life even more so than in other places because we have this crazy tradition that is also mixed with our independence day. People that celebrate this holiday
For more information on this celebration see video below or article Norwegian Russ- Silly Season is Here, Life in Norway by David Nikel.
The informant, a fellow peer, told me this story on a long bus ride we were on together recently. While the folklore itself is engaging and definitely meaningful to anyone who has had a high school graduation celebration, the most entertaining part of the story was just how excited the informant was as he was telling me about it. He really did seem prideful about this piece of folklore that is so specific to his country and its culture and traditions.

Vietnamese New Year

Every Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, my family practices some traditions that make the celebration unique and special to me. The night before the new year my dad sets up food, candles, and flowers around a shrine like set up to honor our ancestors. A picture of his grandparents and his father are the center of the shrine. I find this extra special because my grandfather passed away before I was born, so this is my only connection and memory of him. My dad spends the day cleaning the house and getting the shrine ready in various rooms of the house. I never truly understood the importance of placement of the shrines and candles, but he says that they all are in a certain room or space for a reason. My dad takes me and my sister around each of the set ups and we have a silent prayer in our heads. The food left out for our ancestors and Buddha is all vegetarian because he was vegetarian. The following day on the new year my parents say that we cannot clean at all, and we must celebrate. We cannot clean on the new year because it can clean away the good luck. But my dad has also semi-joked that if I clean on the New Year, I will clean every day of the year.
I like celebrating Vietnamese New Year because it is one of the only times that I celebrate my family’s history, heritage, and tradition. I enjoy seeing my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. While my family is not very religious or traditional, I am glad that my parents still try to teach and share their Vietnamese culture and tradition with me and my sister. The only things that I know about my family’s traditions are the things that my parents shared with me growing up. There is a language barrier between me and my grandparents, so my parents have been the main people to share with me their traditions. Practicing parts of the Vietnamese culture and celebrating the new year holds a special place in my heart, and the older that I get the more that I appreciate it.



Spanakopita and Sanka

When I was growing up my mom would always make our family’s spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) recipe. Our recipe called for four things: frozen spinach, cottage cheese, regular dough instead of filo, and a cup of Sanka (instant decaf coffee) on the side. I remember watching my mom make the spinach pie in awe and excitement. In order to make it right, you had to knead the spinach in the sink – for what felt like hours as a kid – to make sure all the water was removed. Then you added all the ingredients and mixed them together in a big bowl with your hands.
We’d both wait longingly for the timer to go off. Finally, when it was ready, we’d eat standing up in the kitchen, straight out of the pan. My moms spinach pie is still my favorite food to this day — and I can’t eat it without a cup of Sanka.
 I decided to include this piece, not because of it’s rich tradition or history, but because I think that this is how family traditions and folklore are started. When the informant told me that she cant eat spanakopita without a cup of Sanka I really thought about the fact that when you become so accustomed to doing something alongside something else, it almost feels empty when the two arent together. I think that the tying together of these two things is what makes this piece unique and interesting.

Anzac Day

Anzac Day is an Australian and New Zealand based public holiday commemorating War time Veterans that takes place on April 25th every year. This public holiday specifically commemorates lives lost in WWI’s battle of Gallipoli. Thousands of Australian’s and their allies were brutally massacred trying to capture the city of Constantinople, and were finally rescued by the British Navy. This experience of war time allies like Great Britain and The US ties into the way we see ourselves as Australians. The image of the white male war time digger is sometimes seen as the ideal personification of the Australian identity. This is becoming increasingly criticized as Australia is a multi-cultural country. For these groups it is hard to challenge this holiday as this is like the Veteran’s Day of America, and is seen as a large part of Australian history. Although this is a celebration of Australia’s participation in war, some argue that it promotes militarism.

Elements of the Anzac myth were deployed to swing people to understand Australian recent intervention on the war on terror. Any marketing that involves drinking and family ties is often linked to this celebration, and is seen as problematic. Anzac representation is used somewhat freely, but the term “Anzac Day” is strictly regulated, and therefore the “anzac myth” continues. Growing up with great grandparents who were “diggers” in the war, my family celebrates this holiday every year by eating a big Australian meal which includes a large roast dinner. We finish off the meal with Anzac Biscuits. These biscuits are only made and eaten during this time, and are related to the recipes used to keep biscuits fresh during war time. We think about our ancestors, and appreciate our military, but there is a feeling that this holiday is more compatible with older generations as we are no longer engaged in any wars.



Songkran is a celebration marking the Thai New Year that takes place every year on April 13th. The festival celebrates the arrival of the wet season, also known as the monsoon season in the region. In antiquity, Thai’s would pay respect to their ancestors, parents, and Buddha, by pouring small amounts of water on their elders shoulders, after going to the temple and doing the same to buddhist monks and statues. This emphasis on water spiraled into what is now a glorified day long nation-wide water fight. I was born and raised in Thailand, so I have participated in this holiday for as long as I can remember. On this day every year, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, the entire country participates. Shops are closed, jobs are put on hold, and people flood into the streets to spray each other with water. When I was younger, my parents would put us all in the back of my fathers pick up truck, and drive us through the streets while we had water fights with all of the locals. Elders would put prickly powder on our faces, and this is seen as good luck for the younger generation. Government officials, policemen, and respected elders who would not normally engage with society on this level throw social norms to the way-side and celebrate amongst the people on this special day. In the north of Thailand, the fight lasts three days due to the attraction of tourism and has become a large part of the tourism economy of the north. Songkran is my favorite holiday just because of the feeling of pride and nationalism that is tied into having pure amounts of fun. There are no codes to abide by, except for the fact that you should try and wet everyone, and there is nothing more exciting than attacking an unsuspecting stranger on this day.



Having participated in a Songkran celebration myself, I really enjoyed hearing what the informant had to say about it. She very accurately described the thrill of the whole festival and how childish it seems, but actually really important to so many people.