Norwegian Sweaters


The informant is Norwegian-American and lives in Long Island, NY. He describes the Norwegian custom of special-knit sweaters which are symbolic of, and unique to, each individual family. He says that in Norwegian culture, every family member has a distinguished stitching pattern, so people identify their roots and origins through their sweaters. 

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I questioned the informant further about occasions when he would wear the sweater and about what his family’s stitching pattern looks like. He replied that he would only wear his family’s sweater when he visited the local Norwegian Hall or when he would visit Norwegian family members. He said that the sweaters were special and not something to be worn casually. He said that each stitching pattern would be too intricate to describe verbally, but that they all generally look like the “christmas sweaters” that companies now sell. 


It seems that family name signifiers appear across most cultures, but it’s interesting to witness the different ways that they take form. The Norwegian distinguished stitching pattern reminds me of other forms of family crests– an icon that takes a general shape but is modified to each specific family name. Further, the way that the informant described the occasion of wearing the sweatshirt reminds me of church clothing: it’s special and only to be worn in more formal circumstances.