Thursday, September 25, 2014


There are many ways to express thanks when in Norway.  The most common expression is “Tusen takk” - it means “A thousand thanks.”  My husband, Kory, jokingly explains to people that for years, Norway could never afford to say, “Thanks a million,” because they were a poor country.  Times and their strong economy have changed that, but the “Tusen takk” remains. 

When paying for something in the store, the person giving back the change often says, “Thanks shall you have,” - “Takk skal du ha” as a way of saying thanks for shopping there.  It sounds awkward to me.

When greeting someone you haven’t seen for a while, whether it’s been just a day, or years, it’s customary to say, “Thanks for last” - “Takk for sist,” which is shorthand for, “Thanks for the last time I saw you.  I still remember it fondly.”  I like that greeting.

After eating, one should always say, “Thanks for the food,” - “Takk for maten.”  Often children will jokingly say this little poem to their parents, “Takk for mat og takk for drikke, oppvasken tar jeg ikke,” which doesn’t rhyme in it’s translation but is still kinda funny - “Thanks for the food and drink, but I won’t clean up.”

In very traditional homes, the children will walk over to their mother, curtsy or bow, shake her hand, and say their thanks for the meal.  That routine was common a few generations back and still survives in some homes today.  Of course now, the thanks would go to whoever made the food, mother or father as Norway has become very egalitarian in their domestic duties.

It’s common to thank God before eating food, and in many Christian homes, a prayer of thanks is also said when they are done with the meal.  My favorite pre-meal prayer translates as, “Many have food but cannot eat.  Others can eat, but have no food. We have food and we can eat, therefore we will praise the Lord.”  My son’s favorite prayer is, “Mat, Hallelujah, Amen” - “Food, Hallelujah, Amen.”

When departing someone’s home, it’s important to say, “Thanks for me” - “Takk for meg.”  It’s another shorthand message which stands for, “Thanks for inviting me, I had a great time.”  If spending the night in a Norwegian’s home, before retiring, it’s polite to say, “Thanks for today,”  - “Takk for idag.”

I’ve made plenty of mistakes speaking Norwegian, even when just saying “Thanks.”  We were invited over for an evening at some friend’s house.  As we said our goodbyes, I said what I would normally say in English at the end of such a lovely night -“Thanks for everything.”  But when I translated that to Norwegian and said “Takk for alt,” I got a startled look from our hostess and she jokingly asked if I thought she was going to be dying soon.  I quickly learned that in Norway, “Thanks for everything” is only said to a dead person.  Oops. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mickey,
    I've been recently in Norway and I came across this present blog while searching about the Norwegian relationship with candles because it really is something you notice everywhere in a way that the matchbox design presents you some great artwork. I'm writting in order to ask if you have any special post relative the norwegian relationship with theatre, art and/or their babies since I'm at the moment creating something that relates to that and having an opinion from a person like you may make a difference. thanks.