Norwegians in bunads. File photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt / NTB scanpix
Want to wear a bunad on May 17th, Norway’s national day? You’ll need some help picking out the right outfit.
Norway’s traditional national costume, the bunad, plays a central role in special festive events in the Scandinavian country — not least on May 17th, Norway’s national day, the occasion with which the folk costume is almost synonymous.
A less-well known fact about the traditional dress is that there are more than 400 different regional variations. There are also both men’s and women’s bunads.
Many (women in particular) proudly don the local ‘bunad’, the traditional costume, on May 17th, but men also wear the folk costumes for the national day celebrations.
Many bunad are adorned with multiple metal buckles, buttons, jewellery, and even knives, which has in previous years led to significant delays at airport security.
The traditional rural clothes are often also worn on other special occasions like confirmations and baptisms, while they are sometimes also worn at weddings and Christmas. The costumes are very valuable and normally kept for many years. Some are inherited from older family members, but they can still be made and purchased brand new.
According to Norwegian custom, bunads worn on May 17th should come from the area the wearer or their family originates from.
The graphic below guides you through each type of bunad and its regional heritage. Explore away — you’ll never get your bunad choice mixed up again.