Confirmation in Norway – from childhood to adulthood


The Norwegian confirmation is an important event, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. It is also arguably one of the most important days in a Norwegians life.

Confirmation is often considered a Christian transition ceremony. In Norway it also is a known as a ritual when it comes to entering adulthood. In the olden days you could start an adult life with privileges like moving from your childhood home, get a job and also drink alcohol.

In Norway a Christian confirmation was required by law between 1736 and up until 1912. It was a legal necessity to gain the rights of adulthood. You could not enter the military service, get married, be a godparent or testify in court without a confirmation certificate. Whoever failed the public examination in the church was expelled and had to graduate again next year. And perhaps even worse, if you had not signed up for confirmation by the age of 19 years, you could be punished with prison or even the pillory.

These days the ritual has become more a symbol and although it now is voluntarily, and also the fact that an alternative civil confirmation was introduced in 1951, the traditional christian confirmation is still popular. The ritual, which is an official confirmation of baptismal grace, is conducted by a vicar who will say a prayer for the candidate and give his or hers blessing. And it all takes place the year you turn 15.

But the preparations starts at least a year in advance; with registering the confirmation with a church, the booking of a venue, deciding on catering and last but not least, buy ‘bunad’ the Norwegian traditional costume. It’s the tradition that a bunad is given as a gift for the confirmation. Usually the bunad will be worn for the confirmation, so it needs to be ready in advance. It takes between 1-2 years to make (with lots of embroidery, all made by hand) by professional bunad seamstresses.

As we are living in London and all our family is in Norway we decided that our daughter would to the confirmation lessons (for a year, in the lead up to the big day) in the Norwegian church in London. The confirmation service would take place in Norway, in our local church there.

Then the bunad was ordered at Bunadsstua in Krødsherad, Norway. This is our local bunad seamstress that specialise in the regions special embroidery, cut and fabrics of the Sigdalsbunad. The tradition you see is that you will have a traditional costume from the home place of your family.

Our firstborn was confirmed on a sunny day in Norway on the 5th of May 2016. The service took place in Vatnås kirke, a tiny ‘stavkirke’ which is an old wooden church, originating back to the 16th century. Family and friends attended the confirmation church ceremony – before we all gathered in the venue of an old historical building close by.

There was a dinner buffet followed by another tradition; a plentiful selection of cakes. If you have been to any celebration in Norway you will already know that the selection of cakes, all home made, is a rather impressive affair and as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds.

The celebratory meal also includes several speeches; held by the main person who thanks everyone for being there, the parents gives words of wisdom, followed by more well wishes from godparents, grandparents, siblings and so on.

For the confirmation it’s also common to give a gift; traditional jewellery called ‘sølje’ which is for the bunad or money. Traditionally these gift were tokens support and contribute to the youngsters transition into adult life.

The confirmation is arguably one of the most important life events in Norway, were the focus is on the individual, who’s being confirmed. It’s a very special occasion – and you should feel honoured if you are being invited to one.

Here are a few photos from our daughters confirmation, that took place a year ago in Norway.


© Little Scandinavian

If you have any questions regarding a Norwegian confirmation, please ask by leaving a comment below. Meanwhile, we will soon be planning for our next one, for our youngest daughters confirmation that will take place in the Spring of 2020.

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