Graduation Traditions: Weird ways to end student-life

When I say graduation, what pops up in your head? One could say that you are at your academic peak. Now is the time to honour you as a knowledgeable person. What about getting covered in ketchup or becoming a drunk wreck with your fellow students right before your final exams?

The Italian trashing

In Italy, Argentina, and even the University of Oxford, families gather to partake in this delightful spectacle. Armed with condiments, they unleash their culinary creativity upon their beloved graduates. The goal is to make their status as graduates abundantly clear—both to the audience and their own queasy stomachs.

Imagine the scene: a graduate, clad in cap and gown, becomes a canvas for edible art. Ketchup streaks across their forehead like a crimson badge of honour. Cream clings to their shoulders, whispering, “You did it!” And that pickle slice? Well, it’s the pièce de résistance—a tangy exclamation point on years of hard work.

As they stride across the stage, diploma in hand, they wear their condiment-spattered ensemble with pride. Their family cheers, the crowd chuckles, and the graduate grins through the chaos. It’s a rite of passage, a messy celebration of knowledge and perseverance.

The Norwegian “Russefeiring”

We are in the weeks before your most crucial exams, when sanity dictates hushed libraries and practice papers. All of a sudden, you glimpse a drunk student passed out in a bush outside. Buckle up, because we’re diving into the realm of the “Russ.”

What’s a Russ? About 4 to 6 weeks before high school finals, Norwegian students don the illustrious title of “Russ.” It’s like being handed a backstage pass to life—except the stage is society, and the rules are gloriously bent. You dress in overalls in the colour of your study field.

Pink is a sexologist, green is a farmer, blue is a rich guy and red is for those who have no idea, which is the most common colour.

During this Russ period, you’re not just a student; you’re a social disruptor. You are exempt from society's norms and can do things you have always wanted to do. The most classic is that you party every day during the period. In addition, one is provided with a list of strange things to do called "Russeknuter". Examples are shaving off parts of the eyebrows or sleping in a tree. 

You can celebrate it in different ways, the most iconic one is the “Russebuss”, but also “Russevan” and “Vandre”. “Russebuss” is traditionally when 20 to 30 people gather around €100.000 - €300.000 on average to buy a bus and renovate it to become a dancing club on wheels. The bus comes in handy to meet the rest of your fellow graduates from your region in some random forest in the middle of the night for a party.


It all ends on the National Day, where you are going in a parade throwing condoms, foam spray, and “russekort” (mostly small paper cards with offensive jokes) on all the spectators. Probably drunk. All this is happening while you know from the back of your head that the exams are starting the following days. It is worth mentioning that this tradition is heavily debated and will probably be changed soon. 

The Japanese “fancy dress” graduation

Another unique tradition can be found in Japan, where students participate in a “fancy dress” graduation. This tradition adds a touch of whimsy and individuality to the otherwise formal event, allowing students to express their creativity and personality.

In Japan, the fancy dress graduation is not just about wearing costumes; it’s a reflection of the students’ journey and their aspirations for the future. Students spend considerable time and effort in choosing and preparing their costumes, which range from popular anime characters to historical figures, and even abstract concepts. This tradition serves as a platform for students to showcase their individuality and artistic talents. It also adds an element of fun and excitement to the ceremony, making it a memorable event for everyone involved. The fancy dress graduation is a testament to Japan’s culture of innovation and creativity, blending tradition with modernity in a unique and engaging manner. It’s a celebration of not just academic achievement, but also of the students’ journey, their dreams, and their vibrant personalities.


The Chinese “whimsy end”

According to an article in Forbes, Chinese graduation ceremonies often lack excitement. Parents are usually absent, and teachers show no affection. Speeches tend to be dull and bureaucratic. Graduates find limited avenues for self-expression, usually confined to formal photo shoots.

Therefore, the Chinese candidates are taking matters into their own hands. Students dress up as pirates, birds and even act out wedding proposals. Capturing these moments in photographs becomes their way of cherishing memories.

Graduation is a kind of transition to adulthood. Therefore, strange traditions are a wonderful opportunity to end in a climax of student life.

About this article

Written by:
  • Kristian Ronningen
| Published on: Apr 13, 2024