The History of Hallingdal (cont)…
In an attempt to provide a history of the people of Hallingdal, I have drawn heavily on the Brief History of Hallingdal by Edna Rude. No one else has told the story so wonderfully or so completely. It is fascinating to read her work and recognize the traditions that were passed down for generations and carried to America – customs and traditions that were part of my history. This is especially true as she describes the social life of the Hallings, although on a far, far smaller scale.
“Social life for the big landowner and his family could be some rather grand affairs lasting several days and sometimes including hundreds of guests. The preparations for such an affair kept the servants busy for a long time and the housewife “managed” the whole thing. A thorough house cleaning was the beginning of it and then the walls were decorated with hand-woven tapestries depicting gods, heroes, and great events. Over these tapestries were hung well-polished weapons and shields, floors spread with fresh straw and tables brought in. Everyone arrived dressed in their finest toward evening.
The host went out to meet them and his servants took charge of their horses and weapons until it was time to leave. The host took his place on the “high-seat” a large heavily carved chair marked by two tall, carved pillars standing guard at his right and left. Male guests were seated on the long-wall benches on either side of him and directly opposite, facing him. Women were seated at the end walls. Guests received a bowl of water held by the hostess to wash their hands – and then the host would stand, welcome and announce that it was time to eat.
Of course… the women were busy serving… but only one “poured.” She poured the ale into drinking horns carved from cow horns – and passed them to the guests. When the meal was finished the women cleared the tables and disappeared. But the men continued with their drinking and told stories of long ago events (sagas), while music was played on harps. When they were “well into their cups,” they argued and fought until they eventually stumbled out to find sleeping quarters or fell asleep on the straw by the fires. The following day they held athletic competition.” To be continued.