A Very Viking Halloween

A Very Viking Halloween

What harvest and "Day of the Dead" celebrations did the Vikings have?

As October begins and leaves start to fall, the anticipation for Halloween becomes crisp in the air. As a holiday, many are aware of the Celtic origin of Halloween and the Christian influences that have caused it to evolve over the ages into what it is now. So I'm not going to talk about that, since it's been talked about in great length so much already. What I wanted to know is did the Vikings have a Halloween equivalent? The answer lies in how we define Halloween. If we define it as the modern holiday that we celebrate today then no, they did not. But, if we look back at the Pre-Christian basis for Halloween and especially the Mexican Day of the Dead the answer is certainly a yes. The Nordic peoples had ritual celebrations called blóts which occurred throughout the year, including just before the harvest season, and were sacrificial towards a specific goal. The two blót s that I will be looking at are the Álfablót and the Dísablót.


The Álfablót

In preparation for this article, this blót was the first to come up in my searching for a Nordic equivalent of Halloween. The Álfablót is a sacrifice to the elves at the end of the autumnal season and harvest. How this relates to a "Day of the Dead" is through the mythological understanding of elves in Nordic culture. Alfs (Elves) were associated with burial mounds (pictured below) as they would live in and around them. The reasoning behind this is many texts suggest that elves were merely another incarnation of a human soul or that the dead were merely referred to as elves. An excellent example is of King Olaf of Geirstad, or later known as Olaf Geirstad-Alf. King Olaf, after he died and was buried in a mound, was venerated as an elf, giving him his new name of Olaf Geirstad-Alf (the elf of Geirstad). With this connection between elves and the dead, the Álfablót was possibly concerned with ancestor worship. Since this sacrifice is towards elves, it stands to reason that Freyr, one of the most important gods in Norse mythology, is involved as well.

Freyr was given Álfheimr, the realm of the elves, as a teething gift. This insinuates that Freyr is the ruler of the elves (which many texts claim, as well). Other than his patronage through fertility and prosperity, it is possible that Freyr can be associated with the souls of the dead, since many texts suggest elves and those souls are one in the same. So the Álfablót is just as much a sacrifice to him as it is to the elves. The trouble with the Álfablót is that it was an extremely private event, even going as far as disregarding hospitality and turning travelers away, and so there aren't many details out there about it. All we are left with is putting the puzzle pieces together, as you can see.


The Dísablót

In contrast to the Álfablót, the Dísablót was a public event that was widely celebrated. In fact, it is still celebrated today at Uppsala, Sweden. Carried out by the head woman or mother, the Dísablót was a blót held during the vetrnætr or Winter Nights which were a span of days which marked the transition between the harvest season and the winter season. This blót was a celebration in honor of the Dísir, the goddesses and female entities of the Nordic world. These spirits tended to influence fertility, fate, and well being in general, just as the classical Halloween celebrations are concerned with warding off harmful spirits. There is drinking, feasting, celebration, and glory honoring of spirits through sacrifice and such. The goddesses and beings that would have been most likely sacrificed to during this celebration are Freyja, Hel, the Valkyries, the Norns, the Fylgjur, and female ancestors in general. Most, if not all, of those beings were associated with death or spirits.


Freyja

The twin sister of Freyr, Freyja, in short, is the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, and death. Half of the dead who fall in battle go to her realm, Fólkvangr, which is much like the Greek Elysium. The connections between sacrificing to Freyja and honoring one's deceased ancestors are not hard to make here. The links to harvest and fertility, much like her brother, further strengthen the notions of a classic Halloween-like celebration.


Hel

As a being and a place, Hel receives the dead that don't die in battle, but rather die in old age or from disease. Hel controls vast legions of souls and can even control who comes and goes through her realm. It is possible that a sacrifice to Hel would be an attempt to curry favor with this being so that they or an ancestor may be treated well in her halls, or perhaps as a way of sending a message to the dead.


Valkyries, Norns, and Fylgjur

I lump these three together because they all have a similar function having to do with fate or the dead.

Valkyries (pictured below), literally "the choosers of the slain," decide who will die in battle for them to take to Valhalla. To sacrifice to them would be a plea to be honored with the glory of being taken to Valhalla by these beings, as well as a way to honor those who are in Valhalla.

The Norns are beings who control the fates of men and gods alike. It would, obviously, be favorable to sacrifice and honor these beings.

The Fylgjur are a tricky bunch. They are similar to guardian spirits that follow a person around and have an influence on their fortune and certain outcomes of fate. It is noted that if a Fylgjur appears in the form of a women good fortune for the self or the family is in the waiting. An attempt to bring about such fortune at the Dísablót would be beneficial to a community as a whole and would ward off evil beings or events.

From what I have listed here, and read otherwise, both instances of celebration are as close to a Halloween as the Vikings got. The theme of honoring or sacrificing to the dead or beings that have some charge of the dead stays consistent with the origins of Halloween. I as well see the differences between the Dísablót and the Álfablót as a more strict version of what we do today. Our modern Dísablót is the eating, drinking, and fun in close regard to the dead. We dress up as and mimic the dead as a way of bringing us closer to our ancestors. Our Álfablót is the familial remembrances of loved ones as well as the observance of superstitions towards the dead. We have a period of thought and veneration for our own elves.

Happy Halloween, my friends.

Popular Right Now

What Will Happen When You Use Someone As A Rebound

Don't break someone else's heart just to get those pieces to fix yours. It doesn't work that way.
Maddy O
Maddy O

I'm a good person that attracts the wrong type of people. It just occurred to me that in every serious relationship I've been in thus far, my significant other has used me as a rebound. You would think by now I would've learned my lesson, right? Wrong. It's because I always give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm always the optimist that jumps into new relationships blindly. I give 100% while my partner only gives 50%. It hurts when you think you're not good enough for someone. You feel like it's your fault and that there's something wrong with you. However, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Unless you're dating a sociopath, your partner's conscience will eventually catch up to them. In the long run it won't be you that will be hurting, it will be them. If you think you're someone's rebound, here are some steps you need to take:

Trust Your Gut

There's a reason you're reading this article. You've seen too many signs and red flags. Your partner seems to always bring up their ex at inappropriate moments and you don't know why. You feel like you're always being compared to them and that you're not good enough. Your self esteem has taken a huge hit because of this. Stop. Know that this is extremely unhealthy and you need to look at things from a different perspective. If this keeps going on things will get much worse. Trust your gut and do something about it.

Confront Them

This could get a little tricky. If your partner is already under investigation for using you as a rebound, it probably means they aren't really an honest person to begin with. Asking them up front may get you a dishonest answer...and they will continue to use you. However, asking won't kill you and they may tell the truth. Always be honest with yourself though. Can you really stand to hear them talk about their ex one more time?

Decide

Is it really worth the pain? (no further explanation required)

Break Up With Them

They don't deserve someone like you. You are NOT the problem! Try and look at things from a different perspective and don't be overly negative. Understand that you will walk away from this with no regrets because you gave that relationship your all. You were not selfish and didn't hold back what you felt...that is something to be proud of. They on the other hand, will have many regrets. Don't hang on to this toxic person because you're afraid of being alone. Be strong and do what you need to do.

The No Contact Rule

Most people are already very familiar with this rule. For those who don't know, the "no contact rule" is having no contact with your ex after the breakup for an extended period of time (normally around 4 weeks). No texting, calling, FB messaging, etc. Do not even text them if they text you first. Warning: the first two weeks usually suck, but I promise you it's worth it. In the end, you will prove to yourself that you can live without this person.

It'll Be Different For Them

Understand that you'll probably hurt a lot more because you were way more invested into the relationship then they were. All the more reason to break up with them. However, the tables will turn eventually. Their conscious will catch up to them and they will be consumed with guilt and not know what to do with it. They will realize what a terrible mistake they had made by using you.

What Happens Afterwards

Maybe you guys work it out. Maybe they prove themselves worthy and you ride off into the sunset together. If that happens, more power to you. More than likely though, this person was just in a chapter of your life that needs to be closed. Using someone as a rebound is what a selfish and weak person does. You don't need someone like that in your life.

What Comes Around Goes Around

For all the users out there: The world works in mysteries ways...you will always get served what you deserve.

Maddy O
Maddy O

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

North American League Of Legends Power Rankings And Predictions For Week 1

With four new teams, everything has changed

Being the first season since franchising, having four new teams and a ton of movement of players makes this season look exciting. Not only this but a season that could change the usual power structure of teams and promoted the rise of new teams and growth for not just LCS but also esports. I have predicted games from both days but go into more detail for games on day 1 while also looking over the teams. Finally I have my power rankings of the ten teams prior to week 1 games.

Team Solo Mid VS Team LIQUID

The North American LCS season spring season opened up on the 20th with a match-up of two age-old teams; Team Liquid and TSM. While both teams have legacies, they are both very different teams in comparison to last season. Not only this, but these teams are two of the six remaining teams from pre-franchising. We should expect both teams going at it to show who they are in this new age of League of Legends esports.

As the season starts, I question will this new Team Liquid be in the bottom half or be top "four" as the memes use to suggest way back in the day. With an Immortals second-hand line up with someone as talented as Doublelift and someone as sturdy in the top lane as Impact, I am expecting them to be in the top 5. I think when a season starts, one of the biggest things is synergy. Which I believe Liquid has somewhat with 3 of 5 of Immortals old squad.

Against TSM though, I am worried about how they will perform. With a powerhouse in the jungle with MikeYueng and the EU gods of bottom lane, it's up in the air. In terms of skill, I believe the teams are somewhat on par with each other. But the synergy built between Zven and Mithy is something that should scare all of NA. But TSM had a great bot lane, so I feel like the real change is this jungle, having someone who knows how to play will bring TSM to its former glory in my views, rather it might. And with a new coaching staff, it could spice up TSM's strategy and give them some momentum. I give the game to TSM.

100 Thieves vs Optic Gaming

Right after the clash of the old comes two of the four new teams going right at it. I give the game easily to 100 Thieves. I say this because Optics line up (Zig, Akaadian, PowerOfEvil, Arrow and LemonNation) just seems really weak to me. I think Lemon is probably the worst support from last season and is going to only hold Arrow back. While Arrow and POE are extremely good, I feel like they won't mesh the team. Akaadians a powerhouse, but he is unreliable and while his style will work really well with an aggressive Zig, bot side is going to be so weak that any team will just focus botside when going against Optic. The team seems thrown together to me, and just don't see much coming from them, at least with LemonNation.

Against them, is a team I am very excited for. As an old-school Meteos fan, seeing him come back is always fun, and he's still super talented. Not only this but having Ssumday and CodySun (both who I see as best in their role in the NALCS) gives them an all-star lineup. And having the legend himself, Aphromoo helping to develop and support Cody will produce a real scare in the bot lane which will compare to Zven and Mithy. And with the consist Ryu mid lane that reminds me of the CLG Pobelter, this team looks amazing and I am very excited to see them dominate.

Clutch Gaming vs Golden Guardians

Again, we will see two new teams going up. But they are more or less last seasons Envy (Clutch) vs just what I see as the weakest team in the region. My feelings toward Hai are similar to LemonNation, he needs to retire. His strategic wisdom is amazing but his actual micro skill on the rift is just horrid in comparison to most other midlaners. While GG has Contractz (which I am still confused by), they seem to be just a very weak team. While Clutch has Envy's bot lane, Apollo and Hakuho, and Lira, I feel like they will have similar problems to last season. But with Febiven, I may be wrong. But I would put my money on them being bottom five and nothing spectacular. I give the game to Clutch.

Echo Fox vs Flyquest

Other than a horrid midlaner (Fenix) Echo Fox looks super good and I am expecting them to come out strong this first week. With Huni top lane, Dardoch jungle, and Altec/Adrian bot lane this team looks amazing. They seem similar to 100 Thieves, having a super strong top/jungle being super aggressive and carry oriented and then a consistent and powerful bot lane. Midlane, they are slightly worse off in my views. Fenix is talented, but I don't think they need an aggressive midlaner, rather someone like Ryu to hold down the fort mid lane and not take risks. Though they look good, and against Flyquest they look really good. Flyquest does have Flame, but I am not expecting Anda to really support Flame up top or Fly mid really and their bot lane looks weak. Wildturtle is good but easily in the bottom half of ADC's and I don't think Stunt will really change things. I give the win to Echo Fox.

Counter Logic Gaming vs Cloud9

The schedule ends the day like it started, with two teams with huge legacies clashing. This should be an exciting game, with both teams keeping more or less the same lineups other than jungle, this game is really important to show how they have come together as a team with their new jungler. CLG getting Reignover, they power in the jungle has risen a ton from their time with Dardoch and OmarGod. But with the loss of Aphroomoo, I was worried about them. Getting Biofrost though, who while not as good in terms of micro skill, gives me the belief this is not only a stronger team but a more cohesive team.

Cloud9, on the other hand, is not looking anywhere as strong. They replaced their jungle with Svenskeren, who I see as just a horrible player and jungler. I can not see an upside of the move at all for C9. I think they downgraded just a monumental amount, and with a new top laner as well, I am not feeling well in their early season performance. Knowing C9 though, they will pull through midway through the season, but early on they look not only a lot weaker than last season, but weak in comparison to many other teams. I give this game to CLG.

My day 2 predictions are as follows...

Team Liquid win over Optic

TSM win over Flyquest

100 Thieves win over CLG

Cloud9 win over Golden Guardians

Echo Fox win over Clutch


Preseason Power Rankings

1) TSM

2) 100 Thieves

3) CLG

4) Team Liquid

5) Echo Fox

6) Cloud9

7) Clutch

8) Optic

9) Flyquest

10) Golden Guardians

Cover Image Credit: flickr

Related Content

Facebook Comments