The 17th of May is Norway’s National day. This is a huge celebration. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, mainly from a craft perspective. There are two main reasons for that. First, starting to write this blog has made me even more aware of everything handmade. Second, I’ve read a book that made me think (again) about how men’s achievements through history have been recorded all the time, while women’s achievements tend to be overlooked. One of the key features when you look at our celebration today is the extensive use of the national costume, or as we call it: the “bunad”. The bunad is not just one costume; it comes in about 400 different varieties. Every city, village and mountain top seems to have their own. But mind you, they’re all made in accordance with strict rules. And this is serious business. You don’t mess with the bunad, or the “bunad police” will come and get you ;-)
The bunad tradition is about 100 years old, and some of the costumes are based on old traditions, others are varieties that have been constructed during the last 100 years. They evolved when Norway got it’s independence a 100 years ago. This independence resulted in an intense national romantic period, and the bunad was one of the results of that era. We’re out of this national romantic period now (luckily), but the use of the bunad has remained.
What I really love about the bunad is that it is almost all about women’s achievements with their needles and threads. Instead of celebrating the National day with generals, soldiers and tanks (a masculine world), we celebrate it with the work and creativity of generations of women. This makes me really proud.
I’m presenting some pictures of my own bunad here. This is a Rogalandsbunad, meaning that the bunad (and I) come from a region called Rogaland. The main reason I appreciate my bunad so much, is the fact that my mother made this bunad for me herself. There’s a lot of work and love behind this. I remember my mother working on this for several months, before she gave it to me as a gift when I was 15 years old. The shirt was made by my best friend's mother. The silver was presents from my grandparents and other family members and friends. It makes me happy to have a bunad that has been given to me from people dear to me. This makes me feel that I have a very personal costume, although it looks like every other bunad from the same region.
This is what Wikipedia say about the bunad
Even the wild cherry trees have put on their best dress today :-)