And I am a little surprised I haven't mentioned all this before, as it is a significant part of our national identity. It's all really selfless and philanthropic, maybe with a small pinch of communism stirred in with it honestly - and a very good indication of how Norwegians like to see themselves.
Dugnad is unpaid labour done for the cause of the community or an individual. Sports clubs usually have them, so all the soccer mums have to rake the field or sell waffles to buy more balls, or whatever the sport club can benefit from. It is also common that apartment blocks have dugnads, and they usually mean raking dead leaves, hosing, planting new shrubs, washing, clearing - whatever, in the good spirit of working together. AND, I left this for last, it is obviously closely linked to our national day on May 17th.
Because it is in this good humoured, giving spirit that we pick up cigarette butts and dog poop unveiled by the melted snow - to make sure our homeland and homes look their best for our celebration. And this is I guess just like the tradition of spring cleaning. (Cleaning the house after the winter to prepare it for summer) and so it is really logical. I suppose that it is different here, because I have heard from other countries that people hire other people to do these things, or host a fancy fundraiser or simply just donate money so they don't have to bother with it in person. And I suppose that's a lot easier and also probably way more convenient - maybe even quicker! But if a simple Norwegian can't invite his neighbours for a dugnad around the neighbourhood - what have happened to our country and our people?
I know we all hate them, deep down, we despise them. We hate them for all the reasons there are - like, "this is awful, and I'm not even getting paid to do it!" Or, "this was a really good idea, why didn't I think of it first?! I am more of a Norwegian than that pompous bitch!" Or perhaps even, "oh so he thinks he can just dibs the lawnmower and that means he doesn't have to climb the apple trees to cut them? EH? I'll show him." Right. And some host a barbecue and bake cakes without telling anyone so they can't help them bake and cook - so they can take all the credit for themselves.
So there are just a select few who just instantly ignite when they hear the word dugnad (of enthusiasm, it is frightening). So for that reason dugnads are a Sunday thing - even though we are a Christian country (on paper) and God has clearly stated several times we ain't to work on Sundays. We bypassed this some time ago, probably by adding "paid" to "work", which was very convenient for the crazy curly people who love to do something for the community. So they wouldn't feel so bad about torturing the common man to get up, go outside and rake until he's bled dry on church day.
Dugnad is a nice tradition, and I hope we never stop having it. I know we hate it and we never make the best of it. But at least we can pretend like we are doing it from the heart, and not because we don't want to be sneered at by the mailboxes.