Monday, June 14, 2010

Wedding Traditions in Sweden

My cousin just got married here in Sweden. It was quite a nice ceremony and a glorious dinner and party afterwards. All in all, a lot of fun. I haven’t been to a whole lot of weddings, but they seem to be getting more and more frequent, apparently I’m at that age.

This was the second one I’ve been to in Sweden though and so the different traditions didn’t seem to foreign. Despite that, one tradition did stand out. Not because it is something I would have paid any attention, but solely because I have been paying way too much attention to the news.

In Sweden, the bride and groom walk down the aisle, to the altar, at the same time. Together. It is quite nice really and is supposed to speak to equal roles both parties play in the marriage. I quite like it.

In the US, the bride is usually walked down the aisle by her father. It is usually referred to as the bride being given away by her father. Some people believe this speaks to some sort of ownership of the woman and is, in fact, sexist. And it very well may be if too much stock is given to the idea that a father can give away his daughter. That being said, it can also be seen as a display of love and affection as the bride walks down the aisle with a man who has (hopefully) played a very important part in her life.

Honestly, I prefer the idea of walking down side by side, but maybe that’s just the Swedish part of me. What I don’t prefer, is the ridiculous discussion being had in Sweden right now as the royal wedding approaches. Crown Princess Victoria has expressed interest in walking down the aisle with her father. And people have been outraged. Both the church and feminist groups think it goes against Swedish tradition and harkens back to sexist views of selling a daughter into marriage.

The church can think whatever the hell it wants to think. In Sweden it is a fringe institution with dwindling membership and very little to offer. The feminist groups on the other hand, boggle my mind. Because suddenly, a woman, who has chosen herself to be walked down the aisle by her father, is being attacked for following sexist traditions.

The feminists seem to have missed the forest for the trees. They have given power to symbols that are not even prevalent in Sweden and lost track of the fact that the woman has made her own decision to walk down the aisle with her father.

As far as I’m concerned, equality is not conforming to ideas of equality set forth by feminist groups with a clear agenda, but instead making independent choices and decisions and having the opportunity to act out those choices and decisions. You know, like on your wedding day.

Of course, in a country where feminists felt it necessary to change Herr Gårman to Fru Gårman, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Welcome to Sweden. And extreme feminism. Again.

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  1. The church can think whatever the hell it wants to think.

    It's just that little fact that the royal family is required by the constitution to accept the dogma of Svenska Kyrkan. And of course HRH still expects the Svenska Kyrkan to hold the wedding.

    If you, like quite a few people do, ask if it is possible to have a church wedding, but "without so much God stuff" you will be turned down. This is the same thing.

  2. Isn't it amazing. When a women CHOOSES to be escorted by a father instead of a future husband people are outraged. and start quoting rules and regulations.Even though it has little to nothing when them personally.

    I dare say that at least in the USA a women can choose to be escorted OR NOT, it is her choice and yet some minor little so-called rights for women group, get all bent out of shape. HUMMM. I wonder who really wants control.

    Dogma is Dogma..allow the women to choose, that is what true freedom is about. Tell the other, including the church, to mind it's own business....Princess or not, freedom is freedom of choice. Others can do what they want.

    ...a female DANISH/GERMAN American.

  3. "If you, like quite a few people do, ask if it is possible to have a church wedding, but "without so much God stuff" you will be turned down. This is the same thing."

    ....ah well if you live in the USA, the answer is YES, you can have a church wedding without all the "god stuff". I wonder, who is really more open minded and progressive. Sometimes this lagdom thing get to out of hand. Let the women do has she feels, princess or not.

  4. Well, a man is not led down the aisle by his mother is he? So why should a woman be? ;)
    Just a thought.

    But I agree the princess (and all women for that matter) should be able to choose for themselves how they want it.
    I mean it's their wedding.

  5. At this point, I'm rarely surprised by any of the nonsense that comes from aggressive feminist groups (because they generally seem to be just as ruthless and demanding as any misogynist group, only in the other direction), but I am kind of surprised that the church cares so much. What does this have to do with religion?

    I wonder when it became traditional for Swedish brides and grooms to walk to the altar together, because I suspect it wasn't always that way... (Not that it matters.)

  6. "I wonder when it became traditional for Swedish brides and grooms to walk to the altar together"

    Apparently for several hundred years, so I guess it doesn't have anything to do with equality. Who knows how they did before that.

  7. The royal family is supposed to stand for old Swedish traditions. One such tradition is that the couple walk side-by-side towards the altar. I don't care much for the royal family and would prefer if Sweden would become a republic. And if the royal family doesn't give a flying fjuck about the same traditions that makes them royal, well then we are heading away from monarchy.

  8. Amen. You know we even discussed this in my Swedish class. And being the American I had to defend it. These punks really think you give away a damn bride. Christ. It is about the emotional connection between a girl and father and is all about love and support. I want my dad to walk me down the isle bc I love him very much. I am in the entire wedding with my future husband. My dad can have his 10 seconds. It has absofreakinlutely nothing to do with all the krap in the news. Irriterande!

  9. Haha god Swedish feminist give a good chuckle, I admit it does boggle my mind just how extreme on a spectrum of equality Scandinavians are, there's equality then there's really that's a bit much.

    Like how your feminist groups in Sweden kicked up a big fuss because there was no word for little girls to call their privates but little boys did, when my boyfriend told me this I rolled my eyes and said are you kidding me cause that just seems a bit ridiculous.

  10. It should be nobody's business except the bride's and groom's!!!

  11. well its a Swedish tradition and H.K.H Carl Gustav are supposed to look after and worship Swedish tradition

    its an anglosaxisk tradition and have never been a swedish so why now.. and back then it was due to the woman being seen as a lower person then the man..

  12. Haha this is amazing, that was the exact same reaction I had, sure it isn't tradition but she is making her OWN choice in all of this and that shows how strong she is, mean she got everyone against her in the matter. GO Victoria

  13. can we just go back to the fact that hairy swede is leaving us?!?! im still sad about that!!!

    oh yea and the whole feminism thing, i myself(a woman) have never been a fan but people should be able to do what they want. whether its their dad(or father figure) or their soon to be husband!

  14. I really need to pay more attention to the news. I had no idea this was going on and it's absolutely fn' ridiculous and boils my blood.

    Let that poor girl have her Daddy walk her down the aisle. God, I pray she doesn't let this loud group of obnoxious women (and likely a few men) persuade her to do it any differently. Those people should be ASHAMED of themselves. urghhhhhhhhhh!

  15. I'm with the church on this one (there's a first for everything!), and it's also one of the very first times I'm disappointed in the Royal family. What is she thinking? She's watched too many movies me thinks... And I'm by no means a radical feminist, nuh-uh, but on this point I'm firm - you walk down the aisle together.

  16. I'm with you on this. Every individual has the right to decide for him/her. none of others peeps business.

  17. as a Swedish i have heard many Americans speak thats it bad that we swedes trust our government and they shall not have any power all should be market driven capitalism like in usa where the government cant say or decided so much like in sweden were they think we depend and trust our government way to much.. and then today i saw several reports where ppl in USA where mad at obama because he was working together with bp.. they said they should kick out bp and the white house should handle the oil crises on its own.. WHAAT? Americans now want the government to decide and handle this thing on its own.. first time i hear.. since they all say to us that government shouldn't handle things...

  18. Oh but for FUCK'S SAKE people. It's not "extreme feminism" (and you, hairy, again reveal yourself to be a douche.)

    1) Like people have said, the main raison d'etre of the royal family is capital-t-Tradition. To step away from tradition is to seriously undermine their own reasons.

    2) While the tradition of walking together has nothing to do with modern equality, but rose out of need to prevent brudrov (people stealing women. yup. Big deal up until the, oh, maybe 1500s. The idea was that to prove that the marriage was voluntary, that both parts step into it freely. If they weren't the marriage could quickly be annulled) it's not hard to see that a woman being *given away*, less than a hundred years after women were given the right to vote is deeply problematic. There was a long period in history when women were NOT legal adults, but merely transferred from father to husband. Americans and other cultures with a give-away culture the way they want (out of five wedding last year, I only went to two that used it), but to adopt it and its dirty cultural baggage into Sweden is more than a little stupid.

  19. Hmmm, I am really super happy that I am open minded enough to enjoy both sides of this discussion with out calling anyone’s culture dirty. In America the father giving away the bride is about the relationship not an actual trade. I think the Swedish way of entering the church is very refreshing and presents the couple as a cohesive unit with out regard to their relationships with others. I think that in a normal wedding it should be the bride’s choice. However this is not a normal wedding. It is a Royal wedding; she should do what her job requires simply because it is her job. It’s sad to say but from everything I’ve ever read being a royal is about duty not desire.

  20. @anonymous – there is a difference between being protestant as is required in order to succeed to the throne, and not walking down the aisle together. In fact, walking down the aisle is only a tradition and is in no way required.

    @anonymous – agreed.

    @anonymous – also agreed.

    @Karl – maybe the parents of both parties should walk down the aisle... but who would walk first?

    @Michael – not sure, anyone have a good answer?

    @Mazui – and there is an answer. Good work.

    @Tobbe – well there we go then. The downfall of the monarchy has begun.

    @m8 – also well said.

    @That Girl – well come on now, whatever should they do in preschools when someone has to tinkle?

    @anonymous – also agreed.

    @anonymous – because she wants to. Its her wedding. Its her life. Its her father.

    @anonymous – agreed.

    @Erin – again, agreed. About the wedding thing. Not that you are sad. Be happy.

    @SwedishJenn – and once again. Agreed.

    @terander – and not agreed. In that case I also think the best man should be fighting off anyone who wants to marry the bride to be, that dowrys should be instated, and that matchmakers should determine who I marry, you know. Since its tradition.

    @Todd – exactly.

    @anonymous – and this has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Well played.

    @T-anna – disagreed. On so many different levels. Especially the douche part, because clearly I am not being used to clean your vagina. Gross.

    I love how some traditions are to be followed (you know, those that adhere to some sort of dogma or agenda that certain groups have. Like walking down the aisle together as a show of equality) and other traditions are ignored.

    @anonymous – as am I. mostly because you didn’t call me any names which I appreciate. That being said, I think that regardless of who is getting married, the choice should be theirs. And so walking down the aisle with her father is quite alright by me.

  21. When I heard, I thought it was the King's version of showing his approval of His Heir Apparent & Consort!

  22. I think some of the sterotype anti-US feelings in Sweden that you have noted many times should be understood as a kind of reaction to the fact that we un-critically copy so much American stuff. At least on a superficial level. I don't think this would have caused all that much fuss, if it hadn't been for the fact that more couples do it the Am. way (with the father giving away the bride). It's silly - church weddings in 90 percent of all cases are about following tradition, nothing else. If that's the case, why should you then follow someone else's traditions and not your own? It's unimportant, but I can understand that people get fed up with it, and ask themselves when these copy-cats are going to start eating turker for Thanksgiving just because they've have the notion that it's the thing to do...

    Thanks for a nice and always interesteing blog, and a Happy Return!

  23. Luckily we "normal" swedes don't give a rat's ass about who she walks with down the aisle with..
    But then again, we don't give a rat's ass about the wedding or the royal family either..

    //Guy named R. Daniel Westling (seriously it's strange, and my sis is named Victoria... conspiracy much?)

  24. I'd just like to point out that it's not a strictly American tradition for the father to walk his daughter down the aisle. It's also done in Canada, and England and I'm sure a good many other countries. Perhaps being accompanied only half way down the isle by her father and then walking the other half with her soon to be husband would be a good compromise? Something old and something new..


  25. @anonymous – because she wants to. Its her wedding. Its her life. Its her father.

    but shes the crownprincess .
    accoring to the rules she are supposed to follow she are to embrace swedish and tradition and bla bla

    she doesnt need to take over and become the #1 in sweden when the king steps down.. but she have choosen to doso.. then she has some rules to follow..
    if she wants to do what ever she feels todo.. then dont take over the crown and have gouverment funded weddings.. and pay for it as a private person.. but no thats not god..

    fun thing about the king is that he pretty much can do anything and cant be charged for its since he is the king and its in the law.
    if he would he pretty much could go out and kill a guy. most fun law ever..

  26. In a lot of places in the US its still a custom to also ask the father of the bride-to-be for her hand. Lol, you are crazy over there. Admit it!

  27. @anonymous – and nothing wrong with that.

    @anonymous – true, but I think it is important to remember that in the end, the wedding should always be for the bride and groom to make their own memories. Not for the church to push through their own traditions.

    @anonymous – clearly you now have a claim to the throne with that name. just don’t marry your sister.

    @anonymous – also a good point.

    @anonymous – yes, she has responsibilities and things that she was born into, but I feel fairly confident that nowhere does it say in any law she has to walk down the aisle with her husband to be.

    @anonymous – as long as you admit it to be crazy that a woman is criticized for wanting to choose who she wants to walk down the aisle with.

  28. Of course it has symbol value. How many guys would like to be handed over by their mother to their wife? The whole thing would be rather humiliating, wouldn't it? See, us guys are often blind to these things.

    Although, I don't support the outrage!

  29. honestly, I dont think there would be much humilitation if a mother handed over her son. but regardless, it comes back to the handing over. there should be no handing over. there is nothing to be handed over.