Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A look into the past - a Norwegian Lutheran wedding in Wisconsin - 1877

A Norwegian Wedding     In a Little Wisconsin Town   [From the Chicago Inter-Ocean]

As I neared the little church of Springdale, a small bell began to ring in short, quick strokes, and I saw approaching a long procession of carriages, buggies and farm wagons filled with men, women and children, whom I readily recognized as Norwegians, the principal inhabitants of this thrifty region.

They stopped before the church, and from the foremost carriage alighted first two gentlemen and then two ladies, one of whom was young and fair with snowy dress and sweeping veil - a bride.  I joined the throng about the church.  The elderly gentleman taking the bride on his arm, followed by the mother and groom and twelve white-robed bridesmaids, ascended the steps.

The church door was closed and barred but as the father shook the handle and pronounced some words in his native tongue, it was opened from within and the bridal party entered.  Many unable to get in stationed themselves outside at open windows.

I learned from a friendly Norsk that it was the marriage day of the daughter of Bishop Preus, the head of our flourishing churches, an able, cultivated gentleman.  He had invited the four congregations to attend his daughter's wedding, and about 600 had reported. 

The simple church was festooned with garlands of oak leaves and the seats of honor draped in white, two places being further adorned by strips of curiously wrought tapestry, as seats for the bride and groom.  A similar piece was placed for them to kneel again.  The ceremony was fully an hour long and included chanting, singing and prayer, and concluded with a long address to the bride by her father, the bishop.

[Part I of a report on a Norwegian-Lutheran wedding in Wisconsin.  From the Springfield, Masschusetts Republican, September 13, 1877, p. 3]

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