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Living by the wadden sea - before

LIFE ON THE WADDEN SEA ISLANDS FROM A COMMUNITY OF INDEPENDENT WOMENFOLK TO A DESTINATION FOR TOURISTS

The Danish Wadden Sea islands have been settled since the Middle Ages. For almost three centuries, the maritime industry changed the way of life on the Wadden Sea islands - also economically by the men’s absence. During the last 150 years, the islands have experienced a conflicting trend: tourists seeking the incredible beaches and the awe-inspiring nature. The Danish Wadden Sea islands have been settled since the Middle Ages. Life on the islands has been permeated by two conflicting currents: maintaining the islands’ traditions and way of life in contrast to the modern life the men came into contact with though their sailing in international waters. Starting in the 17th century and ending in the last half of the 19th century, the maritime industry was the main trade on the islands. The whaling expeditions to the North Atlantic Ocean with Dutch and German whaling ships are especially famous - expeditions that started on Rømø in the middle of the 17th century with Fanø following troop barely a 100 years later. The wealth from the maritime industry has made a lasting imprint on the islands, especially on the architecture, where the Frisian-inspired farms on Rømø and the Captains’ homes in Sønderho show the prosperity of the 18th century. During the 19th century, the maritime industry abated on Rømø and Mandø, where farming and husbandry started to play a more important role, while on Fanø, Nordby took over from Sønderho and thus experienced growth in the sailing and shipbuilding industries from

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the middle of the 19th century when Nordby was at its most prosperous. Fishing and agriculture were the primary occupations on the islands, but functioned for many years as a subsidiary to the maritime industry. Farming was very difficult, since the soil was poor and sand drift an ever-present problem. From the middle of the last century, Fanø and Rømø attracted attention as tourist destinations and, since then tourism has been the primary industry on the islands.

The Islands – a community of womenfolk

The lives of the men and the women were very different. There was a strong seafaring tradition within all families and many men went on long voyages. On the ships, the men were part of an international seafaring culture where they became inspired by modernity and the world at large, while the women lived most of the year on the islands, alone with their

Anne Marie Overgaard, Museum Sønderjylland & Mette Slyngborg, Sydvestjyske Museer Translation: Nanna Mercer, Sirius Translation

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Living by the wadden sea - before

Access to and from Mandø have been eased with ’Låningsvejen’, children and the elderly. Thus the women took care of all tasks on the islands: not just the housekeeping tasks but all tasks concerned with farming, agriculture, trade, worm digging, buying and selling property, solving legal disputes and the financing of ships. The women on the islands developed a culture permeated by drive and independence, values that the women marketed to the outside world through their use of the local dress costumes. When the young girls from Fanø and Rømø looked for a position in Ribe, they used their dress costumes to express independence, community and identity. From the latter half of the 19th century, the women’s dress costumes were predominantly used on festive occasions or for highlighting their independence as islanders and that is how the costumes became a hallmark on all the islands.

The dress costumes

When the town fashion finally reached the Wadden Sea islands during the latter part of the 19th century, the women used their dress costumes predominantly on festive occasions or for highlighting their identities as islanders and that is how the costumes became a hallmark for all the islands. Concurrently, the Fanø-painters arrived and contributed through their paintings to uphold the notion of a very special dress culture. Still, up through the middle of the 20th century, some women continued to use the local dress as everyday clothing.

Inhabitants on the islands Population 1921

2012

Fanø

2.938

3.251

Mandø

195

41

Rømø

699

647

Source: Danmark Statistik

The costumes were very alike, but with local variations in the form of cut, color and headgear. On Fanø, there were dresses for every occasion: everyday, holiday, happiness or sorrow. An especially notable part of the costume was ”studen” that covers the face and protects the skin against the sun, the wind and the weather while working in the fields. On Rømø, the women distinguished between the everyday costume and the holiday costume. Today, the dress culture is still alive on Fanø where it can be experienced on Fanniker Days and Sønderho Days. However, the dress costumes are no longer in use on Rømø and Mandø.

Sun, saltwater and speculators

During the latter half of the 19th century, the seeds were planted for tourism to become a new and important source of revenue on the islands. The increased focus on fresh air and sea bathing created a

Anne Marie Overgaard, Museum Sønderjylland & Mette Slyngborg, Sydvestjyske Museer Translation: Nanna Mercer, Sirius Translation

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Living by the wadden sea - before

The islands still attract many tourists, and today tourism is critical for the economy on the islands.

Tourists on the islands 2010

Overnight guests

One-day tourists

Fanø

780.000

130.000

Rømø

1.200.000

1.600.000

Source: Fanø and Rømø Tourist Offices.

new potential: beach tourism. In 1851, the first sea­ side resort opened in Nordby on Fanø and bathing machines, beach pavilions and beach hotels proliferated for several decades both on Vesterstranden and in Sønderho. With the foundation of Nordsøbadet Fanøbad in 1891, the ambition became one of attracting an international audience to Fanø. In connection with Fanøbad, Denmark’s first golf course was built in 1901. After the downturn in international tourism during World War I, Denmark’s first flight route was established between Copenhagen and Fanø Strand during the weekends. At the same time, car races, horse races and bicycle races were arranged in order to attract tourists. It was the dream of striking it rich that caused Rømø to join the seaside surge in 1898 when ”Skærbækpræsten” Johannes Jacobsen founded Nordseebad Lakolk. Jacobsen was an enterprising man, who since 1890 had built a business emporium on the mainland. The economy tottered dangerously, but the good pastor saw his savior in tourism. Hotels,

seaside resorts, small inns and a row of holiday homes were built in the dunes on Lakolk beach. However, the resort went bankrupt after only a few years, among other reasons because of poor access conditions from the mainland, and took the rest of the pastor’s enterprises down with it. Some of the very characteristic Lakolk holiday homes still stand among the dunes, where you can get the feeling of a completely different type of holiday home anno 1900.

Life on the Wadden Sea Islands today

The islands still attract many tourists, and today tourism is critical for the economy on the islands. Access to and from Rømø and Mandø have been eased with the Rømø Dike and Låningsvejen, while you still sail to Fanø. This has made an especially big difference for the tourism on Rømø, where there are far more tourist than on Mandø and Fanø. In spite of this, the island still struggles with de-population. Lately, Fanø has experienced a surge in the number of inhabitants, many of whom work in Esbjerg only a 12 minute ferry ride away. The environment and the beaches spiced with traces of the island’s history though the captains’ farms and towns, seaside resorts and holiday homes show important aspects of the history and the culture of the Wadden Sea. Staying on the islands, for islanders as well as tourists, is a very special experience.

Anne Marie Overgaard, Museum Sønderjylland & Mette Slyngborg, Sydvestjyske Museer Translation: Nanna Mercer, Sirius Translation

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Living by the wadden sea - before

Things to do

Learn about life on the islands here ..,

On Fanø, you can experience the dress costumes on Fanniker Days and Sønderho Days, while on both Fanø and Rømø there are kite festivals on the wide beaches. On Mandø there is the yearly Mandø Marathon.

NaturKulturVarde

Exhibitions on Fanø

The Fisheries and Maritime Museum

Fanø Maritime and Costume collection in Nordby Fanø Museum: stories of Fanø-history in a 300-yearold home in Nordby Sønderho Kunstmuseum exhibits works that relate to the artist colonies in Sønderho and the Wadden Sea Sønderho Mill Exhibitions on Rømø Nationalmuseets Kommandørgård on Rømø Museum Sønderjylland Skærbæk: stories about pastor Jacobsen and Nordseebad Lakolk.

Gl. Skovfogedbolig Roustvej 111 DK-6800 Varde T: +45 75 22 22 50 E: nkv@naturkulturvarde.dk W: www.naturkulturvarde.dk Tarphagevej 2-6 DK-6710 Esbjerg V. T: +45 76 12 20 00 E: fimus@fimus.dk W: www.fimus.dk

Museum Sønderjylland - Skærbæk Storegade 47 DK-6780 Skærbæk

T: +45 74 75 20 52 E: skaerbaek@museum-sonderjylland.dk W: www.museum-sonderjylland.dk/skerbek.html

Naturcentret Tønnisgård Havnebyvej 30 DK-6792 Rømø T: +45 74 75 52 57 E: info@tonnisgaard.dk W: www.tonnisgaard.dk

tips for further reading

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The archaeology of the Wadden Sea The Atlantic Wall by the Wadden Sea Buildings and architecture The marsh - its use, nature & culture Navigation, ships and trade

About Vadehavets Formidlerforum... Vadehavets Formidlerforum is a partnership of visitor centers that mediate the Wadden Sea’s natural and cultural heritage. VFF’s main activity is to coordinate projects that highlight the nature and culture heritage of the Wadden Sea.. Learn more at www.vadehav.dk

Anne Marie Overgaard, Museum Sønderjylland & Mette Slyngborg, Sydvestjyske Museer Translation: Nanna Mercer, Sirius Translation

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Life on the Wadden Sea islands