Why are Norwegians so keen on using two first names?

The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Norway’s silver medallists Lars Helge Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen on the Olympic podium ... why so many names?</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Norway’s silver medallists Lars Helge Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen on the Olympic podium ... why so many names? Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Recent viewing of the winter Olympics made me wonder about Norwegian names. Why do so many Norwegians have two first names which they use in full – eg Emil Hegle Svendsen, Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Johannes Thingnes Boe (but not his older brother Tarjei Boe)? And the women also – eg Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Maiken Caspersen Falla? Also, do their families and friends shorten these names, as is the fashion in Britain?

Gillian Anne Reader

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