the young men and maidens decided to get married and establish a family,
it was an important step that involved a number of customs that have
since been abandoned or changed. On their engagement day they prepared
for a journey to the city. The horse was equipped with bridal reins
which the young maiden had made. She carded and spun the wool, dyed
and twisted the yarn. There was a large tassel which was either red
or blue. When the festively clad couple sat in the cart ready to go
to the city, some shots were fired. The men from the farms in the
girl's home area stood along the road and gave a salute. Arriving
in the city, the young couple did some shopping. First and foremost,
they bought a ring and usually a silver brooch and material for the
bridal dress and coat, sash and bridal shawl, and shoes for the bride.
On their return home there was another shotgun salute to the engaged
fiancé, together with his future father-in-law, went to the
parsonage to take out the banns. This trip became the occasion for
a lively firing of shots during the trip through the village. At homes
along the way, men hurried out when they heard the shots, loading
their guns to take part in the congratulations. The vehicle stopped
for a moment, congratulations were offered along with an invitation
to stop for a sip of schnapps. On the return trip through the village,
the scene was repeated with rifles and pistols, and a stop for another
sip of schnapps.
the banns were read for the first time, they were usually in the fiancée's
home. The male guests went outside to shoot their guns. The women
guests brought gifts such as a half dozen plates. The men usually
put some money in a toddy glass. There was always dancing. Along with
the food there was schnapps, coffee and lemonade for the guests.
third Sunday that the banns were read, the fiancée, accompanied
by her mother, visited the fiancé at his home and presented
items of clothing to the family members. The mother of the house was
given white wool garters, a blouse, and night shirt. The father of
the house was given a shirt and white wool suspenders. The prospective
brothers- and sisters-in-law received a shirt or blouse and everyone
else received a handkerchief. The articles of clothing exhibited the
fiancée's skill in handwork and were made with great care.
She neatly embroidered the receiver's initials in cross-stitch on
all were bidden by the fiancée to partake of biscuits and cheese.
In the evening the young people went out into the yard to dance.
wedding banquet required a lot of preparation. Several hundred guests
were invited and, as a rule, the banquet lasted two days. It is thought
the the wedding invitation card was first used in Kantlax in 1903.
People were also invited in the old manner with the bride and groom
traveling around from village to village, seeking out friends and
wedding hall the walls were covered with sheets and the ceiling was
covered with fringed sheets. Numerous large mirrors, that were borrowed
from village homes, hung on the walls. The ceiling was the bride's
heaven under which the ceremony was performed. The bridal heaven usually
was a red flowered silk shawl with a fringe. Flowers were fastened
in the corners of the shawl and in the middle of the shawl a small
green silk handkerchief was fastened. The bride wore a crown that
was full of gleaming, fluttering spirals of brass. Her clothing was
adorned with a sash with the tied end of the bow hanging down to the
skirt hem on her left side. The groom's adornment was a brilliant
paper flower with brass spirals. Similar flowers were also worn by
the bridesmaid and groomsman, and by other guests at the ceremony.
the first decade of the 1900's, schnapps was served at some weddings.
As soon as the guests arrived at the bridal yard, they were invited
to eat and later, as more guests arrived, they wandered around with
a 4-liter bucket of schnapps, inviting everyone to partake. During
meal time bowls of schnapps were also on the table. Bragging, yelling,
and fiery disputes could be heard here and there, especially in the
small hours of the morning. Many a wife had to coax her husbnd to
get him home to a much needed rest.
after the ceremony, one congratulated and drank a toast to the bridal
couple, which at that time was a new practice. They were toasted with
wine or lemonade and the following skål song:
we drink the bride's toast,
to those who drink!
bride's toast we drink,
hurrah, the toast was good!
song was repeated several times, substituting the "bride" with "bridegroom",
at weddings ended very soon. An energetic opponent to them was the
parish pastor, Gustaf von Essen. The first "dry" wedding in the village
would think that a large wedding would be extremely expensive, but
it was not. It depended to a large extent on the guests giving a monetary
contribution. Up until the 1900's guests, on 3 different occasions
during the ceremony, gave money to the bridal pair. At noon on the
wedding day, as soon as the guests finished eating, the bride's dish
went around the tables and everyone gave, according to his means,
a sum of money. After that the alms plate was passed and the people
placed a coin for the village needy. Each time someone danced with
the bride, it was customary to smuggle a coin to her, at least 25-50
pennis or more. Also, people who stopped by in the evening to see
the bride were expected to do the same. They took a drink and had
a dance with the bride.
large parties, as well as weddings and funerals, people had to borrow
items from other houses such as wooden spoons, wooden pots and plates.
The spoons had a hole in the handle and were kept threaded on a string
in a big bundle. A special collection was taken to replace any of
the items that were broken or discarded.
end of the second day all the guests gave "sleep money". The collection
of this went toward anything that was smashed during the celebration.
Two or three comically dressed man wandered early in the morning through
the village with a money pail and a schnapps jug and sought out wedding
guests everywhere. They orated and sang, rattled and clattered the
money pail and demanded a tribute from the guests, who often also
sang. Steinhus-Ant, one of the solicitors, used to sing:
a coin to this old man,
wife is sick,
children have I,
can I, on the brink of ruin,
ashamed to beg of you a coin?"
when the guests came to the wedding yard, these old men stood along
the way and attacked those who had escaped the morning visit. Usually
they gave a mark per couple, or a lone woman paid 25-50 pennis.
that the dancing began with the youths swinging around. At the beginning
of the century, the practice of the bride accepting money from those
who danced with her was discontinued as being crass. Instead, the
men tried, unobserved, to press paper money as a dismissal gift into
the bride's hand when leaving. But many found it embarrassing to take
any financial compensation from the wedding guests. Therefore the
"sleep money" and the dismissal gift disappeared from the wedding
weddings began to be held in the church, a custom that is still prevalent.
It later years it has become customary to have the ceremony in the
parsonage, followed by an invitation to the closest relatives to go
to the bride's home.
an experienced country woman from the village assisted at childbirth
instead of a midwife. At that period of time babies were always wrapped
in swaddling clothes. They were placed in a cradle, and when the child
was able to sit, they were placed in a hanging swing; these items
are no longer used.
came to visit the new mother and brought a milk pail, or butter tub,
filled with rice pudding, also some cheese, coffee bread, pancakes,
raisin soup or hand-made baby clothes. The new mother usually sent
back some tasty tidbit to the donor's children. Sometimes a small
child followed his mother when she went to visit the newborn. It was
a visit that was rewarded - they were treated to good things - but
when they returned home they were paddled with a stick for not staying
has changed during the last 40 years, but the buildings are the same
and the mentality and way of life are as they were before. They have
left their impression in the clusters of farms. But one day new changes
will be a reality and will bring about a disintegration of the rural
areas. Then dawns a new time in the old villages.