I have touched on the Norwegian culture on many of the other pages within this website, but there are many more sides to their culture which needs to be explained in further detail.
I believe their culture really stems from their environment and how the people have adapted to the climate and nature itself. Norwegians are natural born survivors and have this instinct built into their genes. They are capable of withstanding anything nature can throw at them and this is passed from generation to generation.
Many Norwegians see themselves as “lone wolves” and are more than capable surviving alone. There are many single people in Norway, which causes a problem for populating the country.
There is still mandatory National service in Norway of 12 months, so every male should attend a tour of duty of military service which trains them in many areas, not only in combat, but also in survival and discipline. As there are no immediate war situations at the moment the need for National service is not so urgent, so really only about 50% of Norwegian males sign up for the National service. It’s mandatory, but also not… confusing I know.
I believe this does show in the Norwegian males as they are disciplined and generally most of the crime in Norway comes from those not native to the country (not always as in some recent cases).
Norway is a huge country with only a small amount of people compared to the world, but internationally they have a large voice. Because they are a rich nation due to the natural resources in the North sea, countries tend to listen to Norway and Norway gets involved in many aspects of world events.
Norway is a seafaring culture whose main source of food stems from the sea. They have a close bond with the sea and although I don’t agree with their whaling “rights” they generally have respect for the waves.
Norwegians are an extremely proud people, of their culture and country and celebrate their independence from Sweden in 1814 on the 17th of May each year. The whole country comes together to celebrate this day.
The women wear their traditional dress called or “bunad” and the men wear suits and formal wear. There are parades through the streets and then people get together to eat and drink until the late evening.
I really enjoyed the 17th of May which I experienced in Ski, and everyone seems to have a good feeling about them on that day, it was a great experience to be able to join in.
Out Door Culture
Norwegians have to withstand their cold winter months for about five months of the year, so when the snow has melted they make the most out of the rest of the year.
Being so close to nature, Norwegians will go fishing, go on trips to the mountains, hike and generally do anything which gets them out of the house. They become a very sociable people during this period in the year.
I did find that during the colder months, Norwegians tend to shut themselves off in almost a kind of hibernation and I found it hard not having the usual regular contact with friends as I was used to in the UK.
Music has a big influence on Norwegian culture from classical composer Edvard Grieg, to more modern artists such as Röyksopp and Black Metal. I am a huge fan of Röyksopp and think their Electro/Sythpop music (as some people call it) is superb.
Foreigners and Racism
I have been asked by many peoples across the world “are Norwegians racists“? This is a fear held by many people thinking about moving to Norway as they don’t see Norway as a multicultural nation.
With regards to racism, that is a very heavy topic and not something I am going to go to much in to. However, like the world over, if someone is different to you, you judge them by their external appearance, before getting to know them.
Many Norwegians do just the same, just like many English people, or Americans do etc, but it is purely out of fear. That small fear that these strange looking people must be wrong some how and may try and change you.
So, if you are foreign, it’s all about how you integrate yourself into the country. If you move to Norway, but refuse to live the Norwegian way, learn the language etc, then you may be treated differently. However, if you try to find work, live like a Norwegian and try to communicate then you will be accepted.
Don’t take the view that you will move to Norway and Norway will change to suit you. You are moving to Norway, so let go of your previous home and become “Norwegian“. I didn’t find Norway to be a country full of racists, of course there are still people with ignorant views and even I was treated unfairly by some Norwegians and I am a white English male. But this only happened rarely and most Norwegians that I met were interested in learning about other cultures.
To Sum Up
Norwegian lives revolve around the seasons, with Mother Nature deciding when and where what Norwegians can do (in a lot of cases, but not everything). But these are rules you build your life around, accept and immerse yourselves in, rather than fight a losing battle against.
Norwegians are a proud people, proud of their country, people and achievements and I respect them for that.
Their culture is relaxed and stress free and although a stereotype of a Norwegian is of a lifeless, stoney faced people with no personality, talking….very….slow and monotone, this is just an extension of their way of life and a huge exageration, almost comical.
I loved being a part of the Norwegian culture as I felt free, relaxed with room to breathe with so much space around me. With nature so close and people with thousands of years worth of evolution around it, you almost feel closer to Earth than I had felt before.
If you want to live in Norway, become a part of their culture, you don’t have to forget your roots and where you came from, but “when in Rome…”.