From the photographer, about the couple:
Recently, I felt a strong desire to capture some of that Norwegian nostalgia on film. That’s where my mom and dad come in (or as my brothers and I call them…Mamma and Pappa). Norway’s people are extremely patriotic, and while they are a modern people, they also love their traditions. The Bunad, the costume which my mother is wearing in this shoot, is a national costume of Norway, which can be seen worn at weddings, galas, and pretty much any important event. You will also see men and women in bunad almost everywhere on May 17th of each year, Norway’s Constitution Day. The bunad my mother is wearing, is from East Telemark, a county in Southern Norway. What’s even more impressive about this bunad is the fact that my mother both sewed the entire costume, and also embroidered every single beautiful stitch by hand. She has been sewing and knitting since she was 5 years old, when her grandmother taught her, and then continued on with this trade into school, where it was required of all girls to learn. The bunad is a very valuable item, often selling between $2,000 to $10,000.
The jewelry is all traditional Norwegian jewelry meant to be worn with the bunad. The purse is also part of the bunad, and you can see that she stitched “1967″ into it, which is the year she made the bunad.
The red container she is holding is painted in the style of traditional folk art in Norway, more specifically, Rosemaling, translated, “decorative painting”. The container belonged to my grandmother, and it holds ribbons that are often worn on Norwegian Constitution Day. The writing on the lid translates, “If you tell me the truth, you tell me I’m pretty.”
The piano my mother is playing belonged to my grandparents. My grandfather bought it for $100 from a passenger ship that couldn’t keep it in tune. From the age of 7 to the age of 14, my grandfather sat next to my mother at the piano and played with her for a half hour every day. When my grandparents passed away, my mother had the piano shipped to the United States. She still plays it.
And let’s not forget my father. My parents met in singing group called Up With People, an international singing group that originally sought to bring a message of hope and goodwill to the people, during a turbulent time in our world’s history (the 1960′s). In 1969, my parents married in Norway, and my father embraced my mother’s culture, even learning to speak Norwegian. As you can see, my mother is wearing her wedding ring on her right hand, as is my father. Traditionally, there is no ring ceremony in Norwegian weddings. The rings are actually exchanged at the time a couple is engaged, are worn on the right hand, and actually act as both engagement andwedding bands.
My father is wearing a traditional Norwegian sweater that my mother knit. One of the most common sites growing up, was that of my mother on the couch with two knitting needles in her hand, and a pile of yarn in her lap. And if you listened closely enough, you could hear her counting her stitches in Norwegian. Needless to say, my brothers and I have had countless sweaters over the years. We always fight over who will get the next sweater Mamma knits.
The framed picture my mother is holding is a picture of herself. It’s her senior high school picture. As you can see, she is wearing a bunad in the picture, and a graduation cap. She’s still so beautiful some 47 years later!
I am so proud of my Norwegian heritage, and I’m proud of my mother, who chose not to become a U.S. citizen, but instead retained her Norwegian citizenship over all these years. And I’m so glad she decided to marry an extroverted American goofball (my dad!) almost 44 years ago.