*** Norway Noregian


Norway is perhaps best known for the spectacular beauty of the fijords and arguably the worst food in Europe. Norway is a Scandinavian country dating from the dark ages. The Norewigians first appear in the written historical records when the Viking raids on England began in the 9th century. Norways's geographic and climate drove the Vikling outreach. The current Norwegian state is of much more recent historical origins. The Norwegoan nkindom was founded after the tun of the 20th centiry when Norway separated from Sweden. Norway, despite the association with fierce Vikings who terorized northwestern Europe during the Middle Ages, is a very new country which only became an independent Europe. Earlier it was part of Denmark and Sweeden. Norway today is a prosperous welfare state. Unlike the other European welfare srates, Norway is not facing economic problkems because it's petroleum resources are allowing it to pay the rising bills beyond what the country's economy could normally support. The discussiions of historic Norwefian clothing is essentially a discussion of widespread Danish and Swedish clothing. Fashions in these three Scandinacvian countries as well as Finland are quite similar. Fashions in the these countries, especially Norway have been influenced by the transnational nomadic people of the Arctic, the Lapps.

Norwegian boys clothes
Figure 1.--This Norwegian boy wears embroidered Lederhosen with heavy knee socks.


Norway is perhaps best known for the spectacular beauty of its fijords and glaciers. Hundreds if fijords cut into the country's long Atlantic coastline. The glaciers in the higher mountaneous areas are not, as is often believed, remnants of the massive ice age sheet. The fijords were, however, carved out by those ice sheet. The country is one of the most northerly situated in the world. Norway is situated along the western rim of the Scandinavian peninsula. It extends furher note than the rest of Scandinavia as well as Finland. It is one of the few countries with territory north of the Arctic Circle. It is also the most westerly part of Scandinavia,the only Scandanavian country with an Atlantic coast--sometimes called the Norwegian Sea. Norway primarily borders with Sweden in the east--a major factor in the World War II German occupation. There are much more limited birders with Finland and Russia in the north. Not only is Norway one of the world's most northerly countries, but it is one of the most mountaneous countries, dominated by the Scandinavian Mountains. And about a third of the country is located above the tree line. As a result more than two-thirds of the country is uninhabited. All of this and the climate limits the amount and productivity of arable land. And this has played a crucial role in Norwegian history. It was the limited agriculture thast propelled the Vikibng outreach, not only from Norway, but also Sweden and Denmark.


Norway has an extremely colorful history. Norway was populated by the northern Germanic tribes that were unknown to the ancients. These people entered into written history as the Vikings as a result of their attacks on Britain. The Vikings exhibited a brutality that was striking in a not very gentle era. Ironically, the Vikings played an important role in the development of European democracy. Norway has had some destinctive monarchs in the medevil era. As a result of union with Denmark in the 13th century, however, there was for about 500 years no separate Norwegian monarch. Norway despite its long history, is a relatively young European nations in constitutional terms and the monarchy one of the newest. The current monarchy only dates to 1905 when Norway withdrew from the union with Sweden. The first Norwegian monarch in modern times was King Haakon VII who was elected in 1905 and served through the turbulant era of the first half of the 20th century. Norway adopting the Swedish approach, remained neutral in World War I and hoped to do the same when World War II brike out. Germany invaded and occupied the country. After the War, Norway reversed in neutrality policy and joined NATO. The country began building awlfare state in the inter-wars period and this process continued after World War II.


Norway's northerly location and mounaneous terrine limited agriculture and as the population grew abnd as the rest of the Scabdinavia, men had to seak oportunities elsewhere. Trade turned into raiding and then settlement and conquest. Scandanavia continued as a poor area of Europe as long as agriculture was the foundation of the economy. Limited economic oppotunity caused emigration to America, mostly farm weorkers seeking lsnd. With the industrial revolution came greater prosperity. While agriculture is limited, fisheries and forestry has helped expand the economy. Scandinavian countries were among the European leaders in creating the modern welfare state. Most of Europe is now finding it difficult to finance the generous benefits promised. Norway is a rare exception because of the lucrative off shore oil discoveries. The country has many other resources including, hydropower, fishery, forests, and minerals. The country's economy, however, is highly dependent on the petroleum sector. Oil and gas exports provide half of total exports and over 30 percent of state revenue, but oil production has begun to decline. Anticipating future declines, Norway has attempted to invest some of the oil income. It now has one of the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. It is a rare European country that has not borrowing huge sums to finance social welfare payments. It is also one of the few European countries that has chosen to remain out of the European Union.

Chronological Trends

Norway way as a country disappeared in the middle ages and became part of Denmark and than Sweden. Thus fashions were influenced by these associations, as well as the country's climate northern lattitude. ermany because of its size and economic importance wa an important influence on Scandinavian fashions. Germany bordered on Denmark and shred a Baltic coast with Sweden. We do not have much information on the19th century, but believe Norwegian fashions generally followed Europen trends, especially Scndinavian trends. Norway seceeded from Sweden and began an independent kingdom. The Norwegian queen was a British princess. This perhaps introduced a British touch to the basically Scandinavian-German styles. The short pants that became widely worn in Europe during the 1920s were never as common in Norway as in other European counrties, in part because of the climate. Some little boys wore shorts and over-the-knee stockings. By the late 1940s, young boys used long stockings, if they were 10 or younger, and only in winter. By the 1970s, Norwegian boys were wearing the generalized European fashions, albeit with styles especially suited for cold weather.


We do not yet have much information on the garments worn by Norwegian boys. Our archive of Norwegian images is very limited at this time. We do note Norwegian boys wearing sailor suits, a style that was common throughout Scandinavia. Knitwear is popular in Norway as it is in all the Scandinavian countries. We notice many images of Norwegian boys wearing as wide variety of knitwear. Traditiinally mothers and grandmothers knitted warm clothes at home for their children. We also note boys wearing kneepants at the turn of the century. Short pants were popular for Summer wear during the mid-20th century. Knickers were also wuidely worn by Norwegian boys. We note them being worn in Norway after they had passed out of fashion in other countries. A factor here is that knickers and ski pants were essenhtially the same sgtyle. We have noted Norwegian boys wearing a wide range of hosiery, including long stoclkings and tights.

Folk Costume

We note some Norwegian folk costumes which appear to be bright vests, white shirts, black knickers and white stockings. The indigenous people of Norway and the rest of northwestern Europe are the Lapps. Their attire has been affected by their Arctic environment. It has also influenced Norwegian fashions and clothing.

Norwegian Royalty

Norway has an extremely colorful history, including some destinctive monarchs in the medevil era. Asca result of union with Denmark in the 13th century, however, there was for about 500 years no separate Norwegian monarch. Norway despite its long history, is a relatively young European nations in constitutional terms and the monarchy one of the newest. The current monarchy only dates to 1905 when Norway withdrew from the union with Sweden. The first Norwegian monarch in modern times was King Haakon VII who was elected in 1905 and served through the turbulant era of the first half of the 20th century.


Norwegians are predominantly decenents of the ancient Germanic Tribes. The northern tribes which settle Scandinvia are today commonly called Nordic people or Scandinavians. Actually the Scandinavian native people are the Sami who settled the area around 8,000 BP, millennia before the Germans. The German Tribes when they arrived drove the Sami to the far north. North German tribes are today best known as the Vikings.


The best known minority in Norway are the Lapplanders or S�mi people. Other minorities recohnized by the Norwegian Government include Jews, Kvens (people of Finnish descent living in the North), Roma (Gypsies), Scandinavian Romani, and Skogfins (people of Finnish descent living in the south-east). I am not sure why there does not appear to be a Swedish minority. Norway in recent years because of liberal immigration law has allowed large numbers of foreign immigrants enter the country. The Lapps are are the undigenous Proto-Finno-Saami (Uralic) people migrating west from the east and south-east into what is now Scandanavia (about 6,000 BC). Nearly two-thirds of the Lapps live in Norway. Smaller numbers live in northern Sweden, Finland, and Russia (Kola Peninsula). The rights of the Lapps are enshrined in the Norwegian Constitution and law. Historical studis of the Lapps were until recently limited to culture and linguistics. modern DNA studies have provided important insights challengoing earlier assumtions. Reseachers now believe that two most frequent maternal linages of the S�mi people are the first Homo sapien inhabitants in Europe. They also seem to be descendants of common ancestors with Catalonians and the Basque people, other early inhabitants of Europe (Iberian Peninsula). The most common paternal linage among the Sami are Proto-Finno-Ugric migrants from the south and southwest (Volga-Ural region). The Lapps are commonly associated with reindeer herding. Only a small minority are, however, actually involved with this livlihood. More Lapps are involved with fishing, trapping animals, sheep herding, and other pursuits. Norway had amall Jewish population. The NAZIs after they invaded and occupied Norway during World War II (1940). Much of Norway's small Jewish population was arrested and deported. Many managed to survive, however, as they were accorded special treatment.


We do not yet know much about Norwegian boys'activities. Our image archive is fairly limited which is our major source of information. Norway was until 1905 part of Seden so we suspect that there was cnsiderable similrity with Sweden. Outdoor activities, especially were surely imprtant. We are less sure about boating and sailing. There were surely ambel outdoor locations to pursue such activities, but many boys could not have afforded boats. Many boys until the 20th contury worked, but we have do not have much information on that. School became an important activitiy for boys, eecially in the 19th century when as the public school system developed. Norway like other Scandanavian countries have not required school uniforms. Boys wore their normal clothes so school wear has simply reflected the contemprary Norwegian fashions. Norwegian readers tell HBC that the individuality and importance of personal choice has meant that school uniform has never proven popular in Norway. We see sport becoming an important activity in the 20th century. Our information is limited. The principal sport was sccer (footbll), but we are not sure tohat extent boys plated it. Presumably sports clubs were formed by young men to sponsor athletic activities. We do not yet have an overall page for Norwegian youth groups. he most important grou was Scouting. There is also a page on Norwegian nationalist groups.


A very valuable section of HBC is the family section. Available photograophic images of Norwegian families provide useful information on Norwegian boys' clothes. These images are especially helpful as they provide some idea of the type odf family the boy came from and thus an indicator of which boys were wearing specific styles--valuable sociological information. Familiy photographs also provide information on what type of clothing other members of the family were wearing at any given time, including brothers of other ages, sisters, and parents. This helps to put the boys' clothing in context. One popular fashion among Dutch parents was to dress their similar in identical or coordinated styles. Many images on HBC are single person portraits without the context of what adults and girls were wearing. The family section helps to provide the context.


Norway is a north-south orinted country. Most of the poppulation is found in the more temperate south. The country extends so far north into the Arctic Circle. One of the most interesting regions of Norway is Spitzbergen, an Arctic Arcepelago. Ownership was contested with Russia and the Soviet Union. It was the scene of World War II fighting, the first time European fighting had reached the Arctic.


We do not yet information on Norwegian photography. Norway has a very small population so the photographic record is limited. We do note an amateur Swedishb photographer, Frederik Bruno, who took early colored images in Sweden and Norway.

Personal Experiences

We have few personal accounts from Norway. Hopefully our Norwegian readers will provide us some information about their experiences. Some personal accounts about or touching on Norway are very helpful in understanding fashion and clothing as well as general social trends.


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Created: May 6, 1998
Last updated: 3:24 AM 11/29/2015