Bunad: What’s That?

I’ve included both Norwegian and German glossaries in Odin’s Promise for the few words used for authenticity. BUNAD, one of those words, means fine clothing in Norwegian. You don’t have to travel to Norway to be aware of the  iconic attire often called “national costumes” by people unaware of their cultural role and significance. Costumes implies something worn for Halloween, not in real life. Bunad are worn by men, women, and children for various important occasions when others might wear fine clothing: christenings, weddings, holidays, and especially their national holiday, Constitution Day (the 17th of May, Syttende Mai).


Image from: http://mylittlenorway.com/2009/05/bunad-norwegian-traditional-costumes/

My Little Norway (link here) has informative content about the history and cultural uses of  bunad in Norway today. It’s worth taking time to explore their posts in detail, but this introduction is a good start:

“The bunad, meaning ‘clothing’, is a fairly recent development in Norwegian culture.  The more ‘authentic’ bunads are modelled off old folk attire worn in certain regions that developed over the centuries.  Even though old folk wear (commonly called ‘folk costumes’ in Norway) evolved because of daily life, regional traditions and celebrations, the bunad only borrows from the more festive forms of traditional folk clothing.

“The National Bunad Council Bunad- og Folkedraktrådet , the authority on national costumes appointed by the government, has developed five categories to grade modern day bunads according to ‘authentic’ regional folk clothing.”

bunad hardanger women

Hardanger bunad male



The setting for  Odin’s Promise is in Ytre Arna (link here), not far from Bergen, in the southwest corner of Norway. Bunad reflects the region of your heritage, so most of the characters would be  wearing the style representing that area- the Hardanger region.

Having a bunad to wear is a luxury not every Norwegian can afford. They are often made in simpler forms for children throughout various ages by mothers and grandparents, or the young are permitted to wear the bunad handed down by  their relatives from when they were young. The length of time, cost of fabrics and adornments, and intricacy of construction make each bunad valuable monetarily, not just as heirlooms. They are truly family treasures.

Here’s a description of bunad-making  from a modern day shop owner, Molly Husfliden.

Check out this YouTube link to see a short video of bunad being worn at a Syttende Mai celebration. Enjoy!





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