Nisse: A nisse is a mythical being in Scandinavian lore. Nisser are the guardian spirits of the farmstead or house. They most frequently are out and about at night, performing chores, helping protect the children and bringing prosperity. It is well known that a nisse might have quite a mischevious side but keeping them satisfied (for example, with a bowl of porridge on Christmas eve) is the best way to stay on their good side.
Bunad: The bunad is based on the traditional Norwegian folk costume and refers to the elaborate outfits, both male and female, worn for special occassions such as Syttende Mai, Christmas, weddings, and to meet the King. Each region of Norway has their unique design and colors. It is estimated that there may be up to 200 recognized variations. There are traditions governing the design and wearing of bunads.
Helga Gundersen, mother of Dr. Alf Gundersen, was very important in preserving the tradition of bunads in the La Crosse area. At Norskedalen's April 14, 2007 Helga Gundersen Memorial Bunad Show, over 60 different bunads were shown: from toddler to adult, both male and female, and almost 150 years old to one that just arrived from Norway.
One of the characteristics that makes a bunad such a work of art is the intricate embroidery. It was estimated that one bunad took over 800 hours for the embroidery alone after which it still had to be sewn into the dress, hat, purse, apron, etc.
For more information on bunads, and photos from the April 2007 Bunad Show, please click here.
Log building construction: Note the white chinking between the lower logs. This was made with limestone and water and kept the wind and water out. The upper logs of this barn were left unchinked or open as it served as the hay loft.