Norwegian National Costume
The bunad which is Norway’s National Costume is usually worn by Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans to celebrate Syttende Mai (17th May official celebration). Just as US celebrates 4th of July, Norway rejoices Constitution Day on 17th May. Never out of fashion, the bunad is actually worn for various occasions including confirmations, baptisms, marriages, folk dancing, and public holidays. It is not simply a female dress to wear as men of all ages are in fact leaving behind the lacklustre black tuxedo for the attractive, comfortable, and bright bunad. There are 300 patterns of bunader in Norway, suggestive of one’s home or place of family birth. Much of bunad difference was due to community boundaries, fjords and even the isolation and seclusion of the Norwegian regions. Some regions were almost unreachable with narrow and steep and narrow valleys engulfed by high mountains. Silver was actually an important segment of early Norwegian existence as it was both useful to guard against the evil forces and decorative to show opulence. In Norway, silver has its roots with local farmers, as it is their status symbol. Several farmers supplemented their negligible farm incomes by becoming skilled craftsmen.
Filled with false notions and legends, silver was measured magical. It was used to cure both the animals and people, protecting against bad weather and even used in making beer work. Individuals believed that paranormal creatures like huldrefolk actually lived beneath the mountains. As silver was mined in mountains, it was supposed to have powerful ties to the huldrefolk. The patterns are typically complex, with embroidery, shawls, scarves and hand-made gold or silver jewellery known as sølje. There are bunads for men and women, though women’s bunads are more varied and fashionable. Nevertheless, as per daily manager Turid Liss Agersborg at Husfliden Oslo, they make and sell more men’s bunads when compared with women’s for the very first time. Male customers are regularly categorized as urban and contemporary, and fall between the ages of 18 and 45 years old. In Norway, it is general to wear bunad at diverse celebrations like folk dances, marriages and particularly May 17 National Day. In recent years, the use has reached outside folk dancing, music, and some holidays. It is accepted as appropriate gala attire, it has become common to see individuals, and particularly women, dressed in bunad. The previous Norwegian foreign minister, Thorvald Stoltenberg really made history by offering his authorization as envoy to Margrethe II of Denmark dressed in traditional bunad.
Bunads were prominent among those in the Blessing of Reign of Queen Sonja and King Harald, demonstrating that bunad is now measured acceptable as a substitute to formal wear on the most sombre public events. Besides, individuals tend to wear bunads to celebratory events like birthdays, anniversaries and for spiritual occasions comprising baptisms, Christmas and confirmations. There is fragmentary debate about the authorized position of diverse outfits, and what permitted variations are. In the year 1947 an official organization, Landsnemda for Bunadspørsmål, was arranged to perform in a consultative capacity on all queries dealing with bunads in Norway.
Characteristics of Norwegian National Costume:
- bunad worn for Christmas, baptism and other events
- men also wear bunad
- worn with shawls, scarves and head gears
- silver jewellery is worn with bunad
- silver is considered pious in Norway