In recent years, interest in Viking culture has gone up. It could be thanks to an immensely successful historical series. Whatever the reason for this spike in interest, Viking culture has some terrible stains on its reputation. Viking festivals were a big occasion.
This class of people was known to paint the town red after a successful raid or during a festival, but they literally painted the town red – with animal blood. A common practice during these occasions was animal sacrifice. While many of us would love to go back in time to see how these North men lived their lives, we’re guessing animal sacrifice wouldn’t sit well with many of us.
If there’s one thing most people know about the Vikings, it’s that they were pretty formidable warriors. Centuries later, the Vikings would probably take this as a compliment. While they were certainly a fearsome force on the battlefield, the Vikings weren’t taking any chances. They were extremely superstitious and named the swords, hoping that it would bring them good fortune on the battlefield.
Interestingly, swords received their names from the swordmaker or owner. Typical names included Sigrun (the name of the goddess, which translates to “Victory Woman”), Cerrunos (a god of agriculture and farming), and Blodyn, which, interestingly, was a god of bad luck.
Clearly, chieftains were a big deal in Viking society. During a feast or celebration, Viking warriors would arrange their tables around the throne of a chieftain. These tables were called mead benches, and as the name suggests, there was plenty of mead to go about. Of course, as the Vikings were celebrating a festival or success in a battle, there was plenty of reason to have lots of mead.
In fact, mead was so important during these feasts that they called this arrangement after the drink. While it might be better to hold one’s tongue, we could even say that mead may have been even more important than the chieftain.
Contact With 50 Cultures
The Vikings were more known for their raiding and pillaging than their trading, but trading played an important role in their economy. In fact, trading was so integral to their economy that it brought the Vikings to the coasts of Asia, Africa, and North America. The strength of this seafaring nation meant that they could travel to distant places in search of exotic and luxury goods.
Typical trade routes were along the Volga and Dnieper rivers, but their trade was so expansive that it reached the end of the Silk Road. Interestingly, fur was highly prized in the Arab countries – something which the Vikings traded for silver coins. All in all, the Vikings' trading reach extended to 50 different countries (in the modern world), like China, Russia, Afghanistan, and Canada.
From the 8th to 12 centuries, the Vikings were one of the most powerful forces in Medieval Europe. No wonder this period in history was called the Viking Age. While there are plenty of reasons to explain why the Vikings became a dominant force in this age, one explanation for their wealth was that they had no rules against raiding churches.
The other European nationalities were Christian, had Christian influence, or had Christian majorities or minorities in their territories. But since the Vikings were pagans, they didn’t have the same boundaries – they didn't mind pillaging as many churches as they’d like. We’re guessing that monks were praying for a Viking change of heart – or at least, simply not to spot their place of worship.