Norwegian Language Blog

April Fool’s Day in Norway Posted by on Apr 2, 2010 in Culture, Traditions

Aprilsnarr.  I’m a day behind on this post, but that’s only because nobody played a joke on me or anyone else in my vicinity.  What a kjedelig (boring) life I lead, ikke sant?  Although the big day was yesterday, I think it’s such a strange <ikke helligdag — not holiday> but merkbar dag (notable day), that it would be latterlig (foolish) of me not to address it. 

Norwegians, like most of the western world mark the 1st of April (stay tuned for the next post where I focus on ordinal numbers like ”first”).  To be honest, I kind of always thought April Fool’s Day was another helligdag like Halloween and Valentine’s Day that the U.S. derived, albeit from history, but ran with it and created something almost totally unrelated to the original feiring (celebration).  Opprinnelsen (the origin) of 1. april is omdiskutert (controversial), although it seems likely that it has something to do with the changing of seasons.  Like so many historical events whose opprinselser are uncertain, I tend to take all known possibilities into consideration and form a well-rounded explanation.  For 1. april, my thought is that first of all, the basis of most helligdager has something to do with vær (weather) or the change of seasons because before there was teknologi to explain otherwise unexplainable events, people relied on signs from the gods, namely vær.  So, back to 1. april, I think that since so many western cultures endure a harsh winter, it’s fitting to welcome the transition into spring with a light-hearted day full of spøker (jokes).

You may be wondering what distinguishes Aprilspøk og Aprilsnarr in Norway from elsewhere?  Nothing really. 

Fra Store norske leksikon Big Norwegian encyclopedia): 

                       “Ifølge gammel skikk har man 1. april lov til å forsøke å narre andre, f.eks. ved å innbille dem noe,  narre april. Den som lar seg narre, kalles aprilsnarr. Skikken er kjent over hele Europa og er visstnok en levning av en sør-europeisk folkelig vårfest. Brukes også 1. mai, og den som da blir narret, kalles mai-gås.”

Follwing an old custom, on April 1st, one can try to fool another, for example lead them to believe something.  The one that gets fooled is called aprilsnarr.   The customer is known all over Europe and is most likely a remnant of a southern-European spring celebration.  It is also used on the 1st of May and the one that gets fooled is called May goose.

Did anyone get someone really good this year?!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!