The Swedish National Costume.

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On the 6th of June 1983, Sweden celebrated its first National Day and on the same day a Swedish National Costume was introduced, modeled by Queen Silvia. Actually in existence since the 1900's, the costume was not accepted as National Costume until then.

SvDam2.jpg (89799 bytes)   At the turn of the century, a young horticulture student by the name af Märta Palme came to Tullgarn Castle to study the gardens there. The castle was occupied by the Crown Princess Victoria, who had just moved from Germany to Sweden. The Princess very soon joined the Nationalist movement in Sweden and in accordance with its beliefs, she introduced folk costumes to be worn by the female staff and herself. Märta Palme wore a version of the costume that belonged to the region of Vingåker-Österåker in the province of Södermanland.SvDrFamilj2.jpg (44712 bytes)

Märta eventually married the royal gardener's son and moved with him to the province of Dalarna as Mrs. Märta Jörgensen.
Spurred by her newly awakened interest in folk costumes, Märta and some other women formed a Swedish Woman's National Costume Association in 1902. Section one of its by-laws states: "The purpose of the association is to bring about a liberation from the domination of foreign fashion among Swedish women through the introduction of a more common use of national costumes".
The national

 costumes has its origin in the folk or peasant costume. Fairly isolated by natural borders and bad roads, districts and parishes could preserve the local flair of the costumes. Used for every day wear and festivities, the costumes became uniforms of equality.

   SvDr2st.jpg (142816 bytes)  During the middle of the 19th century, free enterprise and industrialization brought changes to the countryside, and the influx of new things eventually brought about the disappearance of the use of folk costumes. At the very end of of the same century, a wave of National Romanticism flowed trough Sweden, and once again the interest in folk costumes was rekindled. Its use spread beyond the ranks of the peasants and in regions where previously no costumes existed, new ones were created.
In 1903, Märta Jörgensen had finished a costume she envisioned as the costume for all of Sweden. She described it in a series of articles in the magazine Idun, and in regards to the color scheme of the costume she explains: "We need strong colors in the peasant costume. They have an invigorating effect on our senses - and they are necessary as contrast to the deep, green pine forest and the cold, white snow".

In spite of her neutrality, Sweden was heavily affected by the first World War. The National Romanticist frenzy cooled down svdr-marta.jpg (9250 bytes) and the Swedish Costume fell into oblivion, although Märta Jörgensen wore it until her death in 1967. She did not live to experience the awakened interest in folk costumes that started in the 1970's, nor did she live to see her dream fulfilled - the wish to have her costume accepted as the official National Costume. It took exactly 80 years from the time Märta Jörgensen created it for it to be acknowledged as the Swedish National Costume.

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Published in: SWEA-bladet, Winter 1983-84.
© Bo Skräddare. 2001. Tel: 46(0)8-711 4060.
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