8. Xmas Celebrations
Xmas, spelled “Jol” in Outdated Norse, was the title for the interval between the winter solstice and the blot related to it, which is imagined to have occurred on January 12. It’s unsure precisely why Xmas was celebrated, although it might have been to honor the useless, to obtain good luck within the new 12 months, to rejoice the Solar and light-weight as the times have been getting longer, or to honor Thor as he was the god who protected the world from the darkness.
The precise rituals adopted are additionally unclear, however texts discuss with it as “consuming Jol.” Thus, consuming alcohol was in all probability a big a part of the celebration. There was additionally a feast that lasted for 3 days and nights with video games and singing.
Vikings would make a big solar wheel (a round image with a cross within the center), set it on hearth, and roll it down a hill to get the Solar to return. They made Xmas logs from massive items of oak, adorned them with yew, holly, or fir, and carved runes into them. This was their means of asking the gods for cover, and a small piece was saved till the following Xmas to guard the household and begin the primary hearth of the brand new 12 months.
They adorned evergreen bushes with meals, garments, and carvings of runes and gods to get the tree spirits to return in spring. Younger folks would costume up in goat skins to signify the goats that pulled the wagon that Thor rode by way of the sky. Then they might go from home to accommodate to sing and carry out performs in alternate for meals and drinks.
7. Berserkers And Ulfhednar
Vikings are well-known for his or her battle fury, and there was nothing extra terrifying than their berserkers and ulfhednar. Each have been the results of shamanistic struggle rituals, however they took on totally different totem animals. Berserkers (“bear-shirts”) have been those that turned bear-men and ulfhednar (“wolf-hides”) turned wolf-men.
Typically sporting nothing however animal furs and heads, these males would go to struggle, utilizing their naked fingers and enamel to battle as a substitute of weapons and shields. Others would get so labored up that they might begin biting down on their very own shields. Based on legends, additionally they felt no ache and saved combating regardless of being badly injured.
To succeed in this state in battle, they first needed to be part of the ranks of their fellow fighters. To do that, they might dwell within the wild like their totem animal. This may strip them of their humanity and permit them to tackle their animal’s energy.
There have been seemingly many methods used to achieve the frenzied state for which they have been well-known on the battlefield, together with publicity to excessive warmth, ritual weapon dances, and fasting. This might trigger a self-induced hypnotic trance, leading to them shedding their sense of ache and acutely aware management of their actions.
It has additionally been theorized that they used psychedelic mushrooms or a toxic fungus to achieve a state of delirium earlier than battle. Nevertheless, these have by no means been talked about in sagas and a number of other of the strains proposed would both have been too toxic or would have resulted in apathy and despair, the other of a battle frenzy.