Cultural Differences Between Norway and the USA

Written by hans fredrick
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Cultural Differences Between Norway and the USA
A Norwegian fiord. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Norway is similar to the United States in a number of very important ways. Both are developed, western countries. There are also some significant cultural differences that exist. Norway has had many more years to develop a very specific cultural identity that separates it from the U.S.

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English is the official language of the United States and is spoken by most of its citizens. Although it is the only officially recognised language, other languages, notably Spanish, are also spoken extensively in parts of the country. In Norway, two variants of Norwegian are the official language. However, most people in Norway are bilingual. Norwegians start learning English in school from the first grade on.


In the United States, the national holiday that marks the founding of the country is the Fourth of July, or Independence Day. In Norway, the most important national holiday is Constitution Day celebrated on May 17. In the U.S., fireworks are common on the Fourth of July. On Constitution Day, adults in Norway celebrate with a traditional Norwegian liquor called Aquavit. An interesting similarity emerges between the two countries when examining the holidays, however, as the national colours of both countries are red, white and blue. These colours are used extensively in decorating for both national holidays.

Legends and History

In America, stories of Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed are part of the folklore of the nation. In Norway, typical of most European countries, the folklore and legends are rich with detail. The legends of the Norse gods, for instance, are among the most in depth mythologies that folklorists know of. In addition, trolls are very important figures in Norse folklore. In Norway, it was considered good luck to keep the trolls happy. Trolls play such a large part in Norwegian lore that even some cities, such as Trollheimen, are named after the creatures.


Due to the size of America, several cuisines are culturally significant in different parts of the country. Cajun food tastes far different than the fare served in New England, for example. In Norway, although small differences exist, certain foods are an important part of the culture throughout the country. Fish is very important in Norway, and fish preserved in lye, called Lutefisk, is one traditional Norwegian food. Fish is eaten at breakfast more often in Norway than in the U.S. The U.S. and Norway share many similar foods, but traditional foods, such as Lefse, a thin tortilla-like bread made from potatoes, and Gjetost, a brown goat cheese, are uncommon in the U.S. outside Norwegian families.

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