Norwegian Culture Working With Norwegians

Norwegian Dugnad or Community Work

Dugnad is a Norwegian tradition that involves community members coming together to work on a common project or task. Dugnad is an important part of Norwegian culture, and it is often used as a way to strengthen community bonds and to get things done in a more efficient manner. Here is a guide to dugnad, including its history, traditions, and benefits.

The Norwegian dugnad

History of Dugnad

The tradition of dugnad dates back to the Viking Age, when communities would come together to build ships, maintain farmland, and protect against raiders. The word “dugnad” is derived from the Old Norse word “dugnaðr,” which means “to be useful.”

Over time, dugnad evolved into a more formalized practice, with community members coming together to work on a specific project or task. Today, dugnad is still an important part of Norwegian culture, and it is often used to accomplish tasks such as maintaining public spaces, organizing events, and building community infrastructure.

Traditions of Dugnad

Dugnad is typically organized by a group or organization, such as a homeowners’ association, sports club, or school. The group will identify a specific project or task that needs to be completed, and then they will set a date and time for the dugnad.

On the day of the dugnad, community members will gather at the designated location, and they will work together to complete the task. This can involve anything from cleaning up a park to painting a building to building a playground.

During the dugnad, community members will typically work in groups, with each group assigned a specific task or area to work on. There will also be breaks for food and socializing, with participants often bringing food to share.

Benefits of Dugnad

Dugnad offers many benefits to both the community and the individual participants. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Building community bonds: Dugnad is a great way to build community bonds and to get to know your neighbors. By working together on a common task, community members can develop stronger relationships and a sense of belonging.
  2. Getting things done: Dugnad is an efficient way to get things done, particularly when it comes to larger projects that may be difficult for one person or organization to tackle alone.
  3. Teaching valuable skills: Dugnad provides an opportunity for community members to learn new skills, such as construction, gardening, or event planning.
  4. Improving public spaces: Dugnad can help to improve public spaces, making them more enjoyable for everyone in the community.
  5. Saving money: Dugnad is often used as a way to save money on community projects, as volunteers can provide their time and labor for free.

Examples of Dugnad

Dugnad is used in many different ways in Norway. Some examples of dugnad include:

  1. Spring cleaning: Many neighborhoods will organize a spring cleaning dugnad, where community members will come together to clean up litter, plant flowers, and tidy up public spaces.
  2. Building projects: Dugnad is often used for building projects, such as constructing a community center, building a playground, or renovating a building.
  3. Sports teams: Many sports teams in Norway will organize dugnad to fundraise for their team, with community members participating in activities such as car washing, bake sales, and raffles.
  4. Cultural events: Dugnad is often used to organize cultural events, such as concerts, festivals, and art exhibits.


Dugnad is an important part of Norwegian culture, providing a way for community members to work together on common projects and to strengthen community bonds. By coming together to accomplish tasks, community members can learn new skills, improve public spaces, and build a sense of belonging.