The norwegian dugnad tradition

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What is the Norwegian ´Dugnad´?

Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done as a community or collective. The tradition of the dugnad can be traced back to rural communities of the 14th and 15th centuries.  The word in itself is a collective effort of volunteer to achieve an aim. Norway is a country where public goods are accessible but there is some areas that needs more cleaning, painting etc. The word “dugnad” is an old Norwegian word derived from “duge”, which means “be good enough”, “be fit”. At the dugnad everyone do their best and are thus “good enough” to be regarded as equal members of society

How and why do people have dugnad?

Dugnad is often done 4 times a year, during season change where neighbours come together to help their area look better, its often done with the whole family and it’s a way of getting to know your neighbours. At the same time, it’s good for the Norwegian community that people come together and mix. Since Norway is a country where integration still needs a lot of work. We do this at school, clubhouses or kindergartens where usually your kids attend. Dugnad is also an organized effort of neighbours to help out other neighbours who may have difficulties. It can be someone that needs resources or help with something. Dugnad is an important resource for building cooperatives, kindergarten, schools, sports teams etc. to maintain the common areas and to achieve a common goal.

I remember in school we use to come with our families to paint and clean the areas for our constitution day 17th of May, before winter, summer. The experience in itself is amazing you get to see new faces and get to know some of the other kids and youth in your school and neighbourhood. We will usually get an email or be noticed via posters, emails regarding the upcoming dugnad. This also away for your social network to expand and for parents to meet. Norwegians also believe in helping and contributing to the community, if you can help by spending one afternoon in the garden cleaning with your neighbours   you are at least contributing to some change in the world.

´Dugnadsånde´

Is a Norwegian word used to get people to attend and it’s a word that means dugnad spirit. Every sports team have one day each season where they have dugnad. At the same time, they have something called loppemarked that is a second-hand market where people get to sell and buy second hand things from jackets to furniture’s. This is something everyone that comes to Norway should know or experience once.

The tradition

The tradition with dugnad is that everybody is supposed to contribute with his or her time and work for the common good. From a dugnad perspective the global struggle for sustainable development is a global dugnad. It’s very wired if you don’t take part of this tradition by being there and contributing to the common good in your school, sports team or neighbourhood. It’s been in the Norwegian tradition for so long that everyone is use to it and it’s like talking about how Norwegian love skiing, and how we have one or two days of the year where schools, kindergartens take kids out to ski.  If you don’t take a part in this shared activity you have to live with feeling of being guilty for not helping your children’s school or neighbourhood until the next dugnad.  We have this saying where you have to do your part for the community in Norway.

Being a part of the dugnad day awards you with wider network, a sense of belonging and positive energy from people around you. From my own experience dugnad gives you the joy of helping other and at the same time being a part of your community and it’s a time to do something good together for the local communities. Dugnad is a part of the Norwegian tradition we know and grew up with as Norwegians form a young age. Dugnad is a cultural resonance that represent a way of life or an expectation in Norway.

 

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