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Confirmation[edit | edit source]
Some Scandanavian words for the term "confirmation" are:
- Danish: konfirmerede
- Norwegian: konfirmerte
- Swedish: konfirmation
- Icelandic: fermdir
- Finnish: ripilläkãyneet
"Confirmation" is the official ceremony marking the end of a period of training in the catechism or basic beliefs of the religion. In the case of your Scandinavian ancestors, this would be a Lutheran confirmation.
Beginning at about age twelve, a group of children in approximately the same age group would begin having weekly or monthly lessons with the minister or his appointed designates. Here they learned the tenets of their faith. It could have also been the only time they were taught the rudiments of reading, until formal schooling was introduced in the country.
These meetings generally took place during the winter months when the harvests were finished and before spring planting began. This training may have lasted for six months to two years, depending upon the area and the time period. At the end of that time, there would be a formal ceremony in the church, at which time each person would be "confirmed" into the faith. They would also be given the sacrament of the Lord's Supper or "communion" for the first time in their lives. From that point on they could then go and take communion (the sacrament).
Depending upon the time period and the country, the training and subsequent confirmation could occur any time between the ages of eleven and twenty, or perhaps even later. The confirmation training was mandatory for both boys and girls.
Danes, Swedes, and Finns were generally confirmed about ages fourteen to seventeen in earlier time periods, and about ages twelve to fifteen as we move toward more modern periods. Norwegians and Icelanders tended to be older, about ages seventeen to nineteen in earlier time periods, and fifteen to seventeen in more modern times. However, in all countries, there were those who were confirmed earlier or later than the norm.
Many times the formal confirmation ceremonies took place in the spring or the fall. The information given in a confirmation record could include anything from just the person's name, to their name, birth and/or christening date and place, parents' or guardians' names (if they were living and working elsewhere than at home), residence at the time of confirmation, date of vaccination, remarks as to how well they understood the catechism, how well they could explain it, and the date the ceremony was taking place.
People could not marry until they had been confirmed, so people who could not prove they had had this ordinance, could have been confirmed at a much later age. If you have your ancestors' marriage in a parish but can't find their births there, finding them in the confirmation records may give the name of the birthplace.
Before the printed format was introduced, which had a separate section for this event, the confirmation record will probably be found chronologically listed in the record. Or, if the minister divided his book into sections, they might be listed in that separate section of the parish register.
In Sweden and Finland the confirmation information could be listed within the church census record rather than a formal list being made. Otherwise, a list could be found at the end of the census record which included the time period when the confirmation took place.