Nora and Jakob: What do Norway’s favourite baby names say about the country?

In Norway, baby names are not just a matter of individual tastes or family tradition. In fact, they expose deep cultural and political trends and give insight into the times we live in.

Nora and Jakob: What do Norway's favourite baby names say about the country?
Photo: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels

Three years have passed since the airing of the final episode of the wildly popular Norwegian TV-show Skam. But Norwegians, it seems, are reluctant to say goodbye to the show’s main character Nora. The name was yet again the most popular name in Norway in 2020, according to data from Statistics Norway (SSB).

In total, 416 girls were given the name Nora, or Norah, in 2020. The name was also the most popular in 2017, 2016, 2014 and 2012.

TV crazed?

“Nora is a short form of Eleonore, and appeared in the wake of Ibsen’s (1879 play) A Doll’s House,” said name researcher Jørgen Ouren in the SSB press release.

“Nora was rarely used between 1940 and 1980, but then became popular alongside other short names for girls that end with an ‘a’,” he said.

Emma and Sarah have also risen to prominence since the turn of the 21st century. Norwegian newspaper VG speculates that the enduring popularity of Emma may be linked to another TV-megahit, the show Friends.

Biblical trend

But television is not the only important cultural influence in Norway. Ingrid, Leah and Linnea, names of the youngest generation of Norwegian royals, have become popular in the last decade.

For boys, Jakob or Jacob, the name of famous Norwegian runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen, was last year’s most common baby name.

Jakob, however, is also a name from the bible. And while most Norwegians are not excessively religious, biblical names are increasingly common.

“When we find Noah in third place, Filip in fifth and Lucas in seventh, we see that the wave of biblical boys’ names is still strong,” Ouren said.

“1.5 percent of new-borns were given these kinds of names around 1950, and in 2006 the share was 22.5 percent. Since then it’s receded somewhat and is now 20.4 percent,” he added.

Emil, Oliver and William are also on the list of last year’s most popular names for boys. William is another beloved Skam-character.

Generations of names

The names Norwegians choose for their babies come in waves, and vary between generations.

“First it becomes popular, and then even more popular, often because someone famous has the name,” Ouren told newspaper VG.

“Then, when it’s been on the list of top names for a while, it begins to fall in popularity. Eventually it almost completely disappears,” he continued.

Ouren points out that people consider the names of older people to be out of date. After that generation dies, the name might have a resurrection.

Examples of outdated names include Erna, the name of Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and Mette-Marit, the names of Norway’s Crown Princess.

“No celebrity in the world can make Mette or Marit popular again right now,” Ouren said.

Most popular names for girls in 2020

  1. Nora / Norah               
  2. Emma                         
  3. Ella                             
  4. Maja/Maia/Maya         
  5. Olivia                          
  6. Emilie                         
  7. Sofie/Sophie               
  8. Leah/Lea                    
  9. Sofia/Sophia              
  10. Ingrid                          

Most popular names for boys in 2020

  1. Jakob/Jacob               
  2. Emil                            
  3. Noah/Noa                  
  4. Oliver                         
  5. Filip/Fillip/Philip/Phillip         
  6. William                      
  7. Lucas/Lukas               
  8. Liam                           
  9. Henrik                        
  10. Oskar/Oscar               

Source: Statistics Norway

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How and where to get the cheapest fuel in Norway

Norway is leading the pack when it comes to the sales of new electric vehicles. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all new car sales in this country are electric. But for petrol and diesel car owners who have yet to make the switch, knowing when and where to find the cheapest fuel can end up saving you thousands of kroner.

A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs.
A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs. Photo by Malik Skydsgaard on Unsplash

Why is it so expensive to fuel up?

Fuel – gasoline, petrol and diesel — is an expensive monthly bill for many. Norway typically has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. The at-times sky high prices are mainly due to taxes on fuel imposed by the government, as well as the usual international market factors.

The Norwegian Competition Authority or Konkurransetilsynet recently stated that it is perhaps now more important than ever before to be aware of the ever changing fuel prices.

We have registered price differences of 2-3 kroner in the same local area. There is undoubtedly money to be saved by following along,” said Marita Skjæveland, deputy leader of the Norwegian Competition Authority’s energy section to broadcaster TV2.

The average price to fuel up between the months of July to October this year was 18.8 kroner per litre (2.26 dollars or 1.94 euros). 

READ ALSO: Five things that are becoming more expensive in Norway (and why)

Does it matter which day you fuel up?

As of writing, routinely fueling your vehicle on a specific day of the week will likely no longer save you money. 

“We see that the players in the market still raise prices two to three times a week, but that it happens on different days from week to week,” Skjæveland told TV2. The competition analyst added that by the end of the year, fixed price increases may also happen over the weekend. As such, it’s important to stay updated not only on the weekdays, but on the weekends as well.

Previously, Sunday evenings and early on Monday mornings used to be known as the cheapest time to fill your vehicle’s tank with petrol or diesel.  This is now a practice of the past. 

Where can I find cheap petrol prices online?

Hunting for the cheapest fuel prices in Norway is quite common. It’s also a normal discussion to have with your neighbours and colleagues. So don’t be worried about appearing ‘cheap’ if you want to talk about the high price of fuel. Or share which local petrol stations you have noticed to be less expensive. 

You can check Facebook for groups that are committed to informing the public on where to find the cheapest petrol stations. 

For Oslo and its surrounding areas, you can try here, and if you live in or are driving through the south of Norway, check here.

Drivestoff is an app designed to compare prices of petrol stations you will drive by on your journey so you can plan ahead to get the cheapest fuel. You can find more information and download the app here.

You can also save money by looking for a queue of cars at a petrol station. Yes, it may be just busy. But oftentimes, a queue is a signal for cheaper petrol prices. 

Memberships and credit cards can save you money on fuel

If you’re in the market for a credit card, look for one that might save you money on fuel. Credit cards such as 365 Direct and Flexi VISA will give you good discount options at all petrol stations. If you have a particular station you always fill up at, such as a YX, you can sign up for the company’s credit card to receive discounts on fuel. 

There are also benefits to be had if you sign up for a credit card or a drivstoffkort or “fuel card”.

A drivstoffkort is a special credit card which you use to pay when refuelling your vehicle. The cards generally only work at the stations run by the company to which the card belongs. Different deals and types of card are available, depending on the company.

Specific deals on credit card and drivstoffkort discounts can be found (in Norwegian) here

You can sometimes use membership cards with grocery stores or real estate organisations to give you discounts on fuel. For example, the Coop Medlemskort will save you 45 øre when filling up at Circle K petrol stations. Trumf kortet, which is associated with the chains Kiwi, Meny, Joker and Spar, gives you bonuses when you fill up at Shell stations. OBOS members receive a 27 øre discount on petrol and diesel at both Statoil and 1-2-3-Automat stations. 

Where can I get the lowest priced petrol?

Petrol stations in Norway are extremely competitive. There is no one company that is known to sell gasoline or diesel cheaper than the others

Like many other goods, fuel prices around Norway will rise and fall with demand. Typically, fuel stations located in mountainous towns or areas that heavily rely on tourism will have more expensive fuel. If you’re on holiday in such a town or area, and can wait to fuel up when you get to a more trafficked motorway, it will likely save you money. 

Petrol stations that don’t have employees on location tend to be slower at increasing their prices to match the competition. So if you know you’ll be passing by an ubemannet or “unstaffed” petrol station on your trip, it may be cost-effective to wait and fill up there. 

Consider how much time you want to invest

Joining the hunt for cheaper fuel may not be for everyone. It is time consuming, and admittedly hard to achieve due to the ever-changing prices. If you are not dependent on your vehicle for your daily commute and don’t often drive long distances, fueling up at your local gas station may be the best choice.