“Brudeferden i Hardanger” by A. Tidemand, 1848

Weddings, Norwegian Style

by Lori Gundberg

You hear the familiar clinking of knives and spoons against glassware, and in your dream, your new spouse pulls you up onto your chair and you kiss each other sweetly to the cheers of your families and friends. Wait a minute? ON the chair? That’s dangerous! Oh my gosh, and what are we wearing?

Have no fear! You were just dreaming of a wedding in Norway. Many of the traditions in a Norwegian wedding are very similar to what we experience in this area. After all, we share a lineage and often a faith with the crazy bridal couple who stands on chairs to kiss. If you thought that was odd, if the crowd at the reception stamps their feet, the bride and groom are supposed to kiss under the table. Considering my Minnesotan wedding dress, I don’t think the chair or the under-table would have been possible. Often in Norway, the bridal couple will wear bunads, some of which are formal. The bride might wear a silver or white brude kjole (wedding gown) with a bridal crown, and the bridesmaids would dress in a similar fashion to confuse evil spirits who might want to ruin the wedding. The bridal crown is often a family heirloom, worn with a long veil attached and sometimes decorated with small silver spoon-shaped charms that would tinkle musically as the bride moved–again to confuse those evil spirits! The crown is truly worn to symbolize the purity of the virgin Mary.

Speeches and toasts and the storytelling often run throughout the wedding dinner. At the reception, colorful grains are often thrown in the air for the bride to catch–the more she can catch, the brighter the future! Folk music is often played: Hardanger fiddles, wooden flutes, and accordions serenade the bride and groom, and “Come to the Wedding” is a song often played as they leave the church. Search online if you want to get emotional!

Saving the best for last: one would have to pick the cake! While the kransekake tower almond cake that we often see around in this area is a sight to behold, it is a bit more cookie than cake and almost too pretty to touch. In Norway, the bridal couple may choose a soft cake filled with cream and topped with icing and fruit. While that gives me ideas on what to do with a Twinkie treat, they may also choose a cheesecake or a chocolate cake.

The painting “Brudeferden i Hardanger” (above) contains some other elements that are often overlooked. When the fjord is that majestic, do you really notice the guy with the shotgun? Stop into the Kringen Heritage Library on your next lunch visit and take a look!

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