On days like 17th May, I really really regret that we simply don't wear our national costumes for big occasions. Such as Constitution Day.
If you think, that bunad is a relic of the past, you coulnd't be more wrong. Norwegians are fierce if it comes to making statements trough folk attire. The whole craziness started in 19. century. Don't get me wrong, in general the interest with folk culture started in 19. century, before that there was no such thing as national costume, mostly, because the nation, as we understand it now, is a fairly new concept (that's the cultural anthropologist in me speaking). But in Norway it was more than that. For the whole 19. century Norway under occupation - either Danish or Swedish, and therefore, under Swedish or Danish cultural influence. Gaining the independence in 1905 accelerated popularity of bunad and basically everything that's Norwegian, or, more precisely: non-Danish/Swedish (that's also how nynorsk was born - it was supposed to be pure Norwegian language, without any foreign accretions). Since then, Norwegians take their folk costumes deadly serious.
|Last 30 years of changes in Norwegian society in one picture.|
Every girl and almost every guy owns a bunad, and there's a whole set of customs behind it. First of all, bunader are insanely expensive, they can cost up to 30 000 NOK (= roughly 4000 USD or 3500 EUR). On one hand it sounds like something that would require robbing a small bank, but on the other hand, national costume will be used in all kind od formal occasions, weddings, school ceremonies and national holidays, which means that they are saving on formal dresses. Bunader are not only the local patriotism statement, but also a status marker. Traditionally they are confirmation gifts. From some points of view, it's even a gender inequality issue:
|"Boys receive money, girls receive bunad. Boys more often get money as their confirmation gift. As adults, men have 50% more savings than women"|
If you are really in need, you can order a bunad from China or buy it in Sparkjop (a chain shop with cheap everything), but then it's not really right thing to do and Norwegian Institute for National Costume and Bunad wouldn't approve. I absolutely loved all the bunads around, but the most beautiful surprise we got, was this lady, proudly representing 5000 of Bergen's Poles: