For my birthday recently, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a sølje, a type of jewelry pin worn with a traditional Norwegian costume, the bunad. They thought I should have one of these beautiful pieces of artwork prior to my trip to Norway this summer. This gift prompted me to do a little research on the bunad.
I turned to the Viking magazine, a publication of the Sons of Norway organization. They ran a feature article on the bunad in the May, 2013 issue. According to this article, the bunad is worn on festive occasions and consists of a complete outfit. Each region, valley, or town has its own style, and there are over 450 types of bunads in Norway. Not everyone owns one because they are very expensive and are worn only once or twice a year.
To identify the style of bunad my family should wear, I needed to identify my specific ancestral area. So, what exactly is my ancestral area? I thought it was the Bø municipality of Nordland. Then my husband/tech adviser spent his lunch hours in April and May searching the online Norwegian archives to verify this. He found that my family lived in fishing villages all over Nordland–Vesterålen, Lofoten, and Helgeland. Before that (prior to the Napoleonic Wars) they lived in Bergen.
To represent all these areas, I would need a chest full of pins. I have no idea which bunad I should wear.
I probably should not wear one at all. Besides, when would I wear it? In Colorado we do not celebrate Norwegian holidays. I guess I could wear one to weddings, but that would be rather impractical here. A bunad is quite warm, and most weddings occur during the summer. I think I will stick with the jewelry and wear the gift I received.
I am eager to look for other examples of these pins in Norway. Maybe I can find some in the Ringsaker District of Hedmark where my husband’s family lived for hundreds of years. Pins from that locality would be nice gifts for my granddaughters. And maybe I can get a picture of THEIR bunad.