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The Roman Empire has just fallen and people up north are looking to the skies for help. Odin, the main god of Norse mythology, steps right into the light that Zeus lived in for so long. He has now given hope to the northerners.

Most believe that this religion originated in Asia, and was modified in the European Mediterranean lands. It eventually was carried north and west by migrating humans. Then as the Norsemen explored these areas they brought back tidbits of different myths and their culture was formed. (Daly, pg. x)

Today the Norse people are called Scandinavians. These are the people of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. They were often thought of as warriors of the Viking Age. This misconception was probably because they were excellent shipbuilders, navigators and great explorers with a strong sense of family and clan loyalty. These characteristics can also be found in Vikings. They loved a good story while holding other characteristics such as quick wit, great craftsmanship and extraordinary fighting abilities. To the Norse, extraordinary fighting abilities was a way to show others you were no longer a boy, but a man. (pg. ix)

This religion has little material that survived the years of the Norse. Most information comes from metal and stone carvings. These old stone carvings are able to tell us about the rituals of the Norse and about the gods and goddesses. (pg. ix)

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One of the most interesting things about the Norse is the stories. To understand the Norse people, the best story to know is how they believe man was created. The story begins as Odin, Villi, and Ve were walking along the edge of the sea admiring their work on planet Earth or as the Norse knew it, Midgard. The three Gods came across two fallen trees on this sandy beach. ( Pg. )

One tree was an elm; the other was an ash. Odin decided to give each tree the spark of life. Villi then endowed them with spirit and then the thirst for knowledge. Ve then granted them the gift of the five senses. When the gods were finished, the trees ended up looking like smaller Gods. ( Pg. )

The man that came from the ash tree was named Ask. The woman came from the elm tree and was named Embla. The sons of Bor then granted these new beings the realm of Midgard. Midgard was the name for the planet Earth. ( Pg. )

As stated earlier, the Norsemen are seriously involved with family togetherness and clan loyalty. This is why they have so many festivals and holidays. The most important holiday is Jul. This is the celebration of the Norse New Year. On December 0, the God Ingvi Freyr rides over the earth on the back of his boar, bringing light and love back into the world. The children would then leave their boots out by the hearth, filled with hay and sugar for Ingvi Freyr’s journey. In return he would leave them gifts for their kindness. Over time Ingvi’s journey became Santa Claus’s trip around the world. These traditions were mirrored in modern times by leaving cookies and carrots and then receiving presents. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

After Jul takes place, the feast honoring Thor takes place. The god Thor is the protector is Midgard or Earth. During this time of Thurseblot, which is the height of the storm season, Thor’s job is to push back the frost so that spring may return to Midgrad. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

Disting was on the nd of February making it a festival of planting and of finance. This was the time that all land was prepared for planting and cattle were tallied. When the tallying of cattle was done, a person’s wealth was decided. If the owners of a new calve was born during Disting, they were said to have received a sign of good prosperity for the year. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

Ostara is another festival that is for the goddess of spring. This is a festival of renewal, rejoicing and fertility. It takes place on March 0-1st. Here the gifts of colored eggs to one’s friends and loved ones was a way of wishing them well. In our modern day, Easter is the holiday where we hunt for eggs. On Easter, the renewal of Jesus and rejoicing takes place. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

Einherjar was a minor festival honoring the warriors who fell during battle. The date for this festival is May 0. Today we honor all our fallen heroes in any war on one special day. That one-day is called Memorial Day, which is our modern day Einherjar. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

On June 0th-1st the celebration of Midsummer took place. This was the time where foreign trade took place and well as shipping, fishing expeditions, and raiding. This was known as the festival of power and activity. They also recognized this day as the longest day of the year. After the 1st the days grew shorter and the year began to age. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

The last important holiday was the Winternights festival. It took place in October on the th- November nd and marked the time to remember the dead and one’s ancestors. It also was the end of the summer season of commerce and travel. It was now time for hunting season. The fates of the coming year were foretold in this time period too. They say Halloween correspond with the festival of Winternights. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

The festival of Einherjar involves closely with the beliefs of the Norse. These people measured life by their heroic standards. They did not look forward to heaven or eternal joy. They looked forward to dying in battle. An after life in Valhalla, the God Odin’s Hall, was all they wanted. As soon as the warriors died they were told Valkyries; maidens of Odin would lead them, to Valhalla. Only to feast and engage in mock battles forever. (Norse Holidays and Festivals)

While those who died from sickness or old age went to the Kingdom of Hel. Hel is actually a witch who is the God of Tricks. The domain was shadowy with walls that were a mess of writhing serpents. The hall of Odin was much more intriguing. (John Bowker, pg. )

In the end, if the Roman Empire wouldn’t have collapsed under corrupt people, Norse mythology would have never come about. These intelligent beings saw their first belief system crash to the ground, but quickly picked up bits and pieces of other religions to create one that suited them perfectly. It was Christianity that slowly over took all Norse mythology believers. If Christianity hadn’t come about or spawned the idea of smaller religions, would you be a Norse mythology believer?

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