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Norwegian Wedding Traditions

June 30, 2020

Our annual Syttende Mai celebration with our traditional Norwegian treats had to be cancelled for this year, but for our readers who are fans of history and traditions from the “old world” we are sharing a story from Orkdal, Norway (just outside of Trondheim, and home of the Fossum family ancestors). This is taken from a little book called “Mat og Skikkar”, which translates to “Food and Customs”.

The Wedding Celebration
“Preparations started well in advance. The storehouse (“stabbur”) and the baking house had to be clean and tidy; they set the table and made up as many beds as possible. Sometimes the bench was made up in the kitchen so they could bed down a heap of kids there, up to six.
Stable room for horses was necessary as guests arrived by horse with the intention of staying 2-3 days. It was customary for neighbors to assist with finding extra room, for people and horses.
Then to the preparatory work of the food and drink. The ale from the corn had to be brewed, in both a strong ale and a lighter brew. Then they baked the crispy flatbread. Animals had to be slaughtered. The day after slaughtering, two cooks arrived, the head cook and an assistant. They ground enough meat for meatballs, meatcakes and sausages. The women of the house made cheese and butter in decorative forms, baked cakes and biscuits.
For the feast itself, two “food mothers” oversaw the serving, and two toastmasters took care of seating and overseeing the ceremonies. These were honorable tasks, often given to two couples in the neighborhood, or to kinfolk.
On the “night previous” – the night before the wedding – the “food mothers” were to receive the guests and “beinings”, gifts of cream cakes, homemade breads, fruitcakes, coffee bread rings, rice or egg porridge. Close kinfolk often brought trunks full of food.
Also on the “night previous” the milkmaids would arrive. These were young girls from nearby farms who brought milk to the farm hosting the feast, and they were treated handsomely. The amount of milk they brought was typically in proportion to the size of the farm they came from. Food served to guests on the “night previous” usually consisted of a warm meal of fish, meatcakes, rice and milk.
The first day of the wedding, the breakfast was a solemn event. Guests were seated as the bridal couple entered dressed in their finery. The decorative butter forms were put on the table and the porridges and cheeses were passed around. The “beinings” from nearest of kin were offered first.
After the wedding when everyone was back from church, dinner would be served, “sodd” (stew/soup) and dessert porridges with both prunes and apricots. Then there was coffee and cakes, and later there was supper
On the second day the bride and groom would get up early and perform their first task together, which was to serve coffee to guests. On this day the couple also received milk and often cream from neighbors, and ate rommegrot (sourcream porridge) and either meatcakes or stew. Before the porridge was served a fiddler would play a march, with the bride and groom following him. The groom carried the bowl of porridge and the bride – wearing a bonnet to signify she was now a mistress — carried the ladle. Guests followed in pairs; this procession was one of the highlights of the wedding.
In the afternoon there was typically a “chopping block” dance. A chopping block was placed in the middle of the floor. This had to be climbed by the bridal couple first, then the cooks and the toastmasters and thereafter all the others young and fit enough.”

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