Just like families in the modern world, Old Norse families were tight-knit. Each family member did their part to ensure their loved ones remained fed, happy, and safe. If you recently discovered you're part of a Viking family, you may be interested in exploring these roots further! To help you learn more about your Viking ancestry, we've assembled a few tips for connecting with your Viking heritage and living an honorable Viking life.
Make a Family Tree
So, you just discovered you have some Viking roots! Maybe a distant aunt casually mentioned it to you at a family reunion, or maybe you took a DNA test with conclusive results. Either way, you have Viking blood in you, and you want to learn more about it.
The best place to start is expanding on what you already know. You know that you have Viking blood, but where does that blood come from? Creating a family tree can help you better understand your roots and the evolution of your family throughout the centuries. Most DNA kits will clue you into who your ancestors really are.
Once you have a name, you can learn more about that relative through church records, censuses, immigration and emigration records, military rolls, and estate records. Getting these records can take a bit of time, perseverance, and plenty of phone calls and emails, but the more you uncover, the more in touch you'll feel with your Norse ancestry.
Do you know if your ancestors came from Norway, Sweden, or Denmark.? Travel may not be easy right now, but when you get the opportunity, why not take a trip to your homeland? It's one thing to read about a place and another to see it in person. By visiting the country of your ancestors, you may have an opportunity to visit their graves, hometowns, and the forests, streams, and taverns they once frequented. As the sun hits your face and the wind your back, you'll look out at the scenery and think, "This is home."
Read About Norse Culture and Mythology
You probably already know a little about Norse culture and mythology, but there are so many amazing facets about Norse living to read about! Browse the Icelandic Sagas to learn about happenings during the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries, or immerse yourself in fantastical tales like the curse of Andvari's ring (the tale that inspired Lord of the Rings), Hávamál, or, if you're a fan of romance and love triangles, the story of Bolli, Gudrun, and Kjartan from the Laxdaela Saga.
With so many rich and immersive stories to explore, you'll never run out of reading material again! And by reading about Old Norse heroes, you'll soon develop a great pride for your heritage and those who came before you.
Embrace Viking Philosophy
Understanding and embracing a Viking mentality is one of the greatest ways to honor your Norse ancestors. Old Norse philosophy emphasized the importance of values like bravery, compassion, generosity, independence, loyalty, modesty, and wisdom. Despite their reputation as a warrior culture, the Vikings were wise and kind-hearted people who believed that values such as wisdom, camaraderie, and generosity mattered much more than material and impermanent things like wealth.
They lived in a fatalistic culture that acknowledged all men would eventually meet the same fate, and that the only part of them that would last in the world after their death was their name, remembered for the good deeds performed throughout their lives. As the proverb goes: "Cattle die, kinsmen die, all men are mortal. Words of praise will never perish, nor a noble name." - Hávamál
Live your life like a true Viking by being kind to your fellow humans (and to yourself), courageously helping those in need, and traveling the world to deepen your wisdom and understanding. By being the best you can be, your noble name will live on through generations!
Explore Viking Foods
The English often admonished the Vikings for being gluttonous. But, hey, when you spend all day doing housework, farming, hunting, and going on grand adventures, you need fuel to keep yourself going! The English were probably just jealous that the average Norsemen and Norsewomen ate as well as their king and queen.
The Old Norse diet was a surprisingly fatty and sugary one, as both fats and sugars provided the energy Vikings needed to get through the day. Berries, cereals, fish, fruit, grains, honey, meat, milk, and veggies were staples of their diet.
Most families ate twice a day. Dagmal was the first meal of the day and usually consisted of leftover stew or porridge with bread and fruit. Nattmal, the night meal, was often fish or meat stewed with vegetables with dried fruit and honey as a treat. They drank ale, buttermilk, and mead.
Occasionally, families participated in feasts, which were truly grand! Feasts were held for various reasons. There were seasonal feasts, religious feasts, and celebratory feasts for weddings and successful voyages. At these feasts, the Vikings would eat their fill of bread, fish, fowl, fruit, meat, vegetables, and wild greens and drink ale and mead.
Embrace your Viking heritage by eating as the Vikings did. Whip up a meat or elderberry soup, bake your own barley bread, or slurp down some ale or mead in your very own drinking horn. And don't forget to invite your friends and family over to share in your homemade feast—it’s not much of a party if you’re the only one in attendance.
Dress Like a Viking
Our final tip for connecting with your Viking heritage is to dress like a Viking. We’re not saying you have to don full Viking garb in public (though it’d be pretty cool if you did). But why not showcase your heritage more subtly by wearing Norse jewelry, beard beads, or T-shirts that nod to Norse tales and proverbs?
Jewelry was an especially crucial part of Norse fashion. Both men and women donned bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, and other trinkets. This jewelry often featured carvings or pendants of important Norse symbols, like Mjolnir (Thor's Hammer) and Yggdrasil (Tree of Life). They were used both as alternate forms of currency and protective charms.
At Norse Spirit, we want to help people appreciate, embrace, and understand Norse culture. For modern Vikings who want to be more in tune with their heritage, we have Norse Viking necklaces. We also have other jewelry featuring prominent Norse symbols like Mjolnir and Yggdrasil, T-shirts, accessories, and curved drinking horns. Shop today and embrace the Viking way of life!