Vikings are well-known for all the fighting and their bravery. What is equally well-known is the fact that they have numerous rituals. These rituals hold a sacred significance to certain parts of their lives. A lot of these rituals are either related to sacrificing a human or an animal or… well, death.
But still, there were a handful of rituals that Vikings performed in the olden days that can be labelled strange. The heading is just sugar coated labels for the rituals that are about to come ahead. These rituals are as abnormal and astounding as they can get.
So what if you are a Viking from the 8th or 11th century? Nobody said anything about not looking after your appearances. The Vikings were tall, muscular (and to be honest, a little scary). Anyone who came across them had a genuine reason to be terrified. Who wouldn’t? The Vikings had filed horizontal grooves across their front teeth which resulted in bleeding or if there was no blood, they would dye their teeth in red colour. It is unknown why they did this but it is believed that it was just another ritual one had to go through to be a warrior.
Berserkers And Ulfhednar
I doubt that you’d be surprised when I tell you that the Vikings used to wear clothes that were made from the skin of a bear or a wolf – because a lot of them, apart from the Vikings wore such clothing. But a dash of strangeness comes rushing in when I tell you that these men would barge into the battlefields with these attires on and fight without (I cannot stress enough on ‘without’) any type of shield or weapon. They would fight with their bare hands and teeth. Yes, with teeth. But to reach this stage they would have to join their fellow ranking members and to do that they would live in the wild like an animal. This process would strip them of their humanity and they would have animal-like strength.
The Viking Chief Cremation
This particular ceremony is a little too disturbing for nearly anyone’s likes. After the death of a chief, one of his “slave girls” would volunteer freely to join him in the afterlife. The girl was first looked after and then heavily intoxicated with numerous drinks while the cremation ceremonies were made. The girl would then partake in “sexual rites”, whereas the girl would mate with every man in the village before she was strangled. The village matriarch would then stab her and place her next to the chief’s body. This ritual ensured that the slave girl would serve the chief even in the afterlife.
Ausa Vatni And Nafnfesti
When a baby was born, there were a couple of rituals that were held for it to be considered human. If one does not perform such rituals, it was believed that the new-born was not a human. When the baby was born, he was placed on the ground and picked up by his father. The father would then wrap the infant in his coat and check for any abnormalities or problems visible in the baby. If the baby was in perfect health, they would perform a ceremony called Ausa Vatni in which they sprinkled water over the baby. After this, the child would be named, where the ritual was called Nafnfesti. If you are wondering what happens to the child if it was unhealthy in any way – they would leave the child in the wild or wherever they please which would eventually kill the child.
Draugrs were the Viking version of the modern-day zombies. It was believed that after the person was buried, his or her corpse would be animated again. To prevent Draugr from coming into their lives, they would tie the big toes of the deceased together, so that it could not walk if it were to come alive. The Vikings also believed that the dead could only return the same way they came. This was the reason why the body was carried out feet first so that they couldn’t properly see the route they took to the burial land.
These rituals that were performed by the Vikings are not only strangely mixed with a pinch of bizarre, but also deeply disturbing at some points. These were just a handful of rituals that we felt were odd. I mean what was up with the cremation ritual?!
Today we might find these rituals inappropriate and uncanny but back in those days, these were pretty normal and not news to them. Which of these rituals did you find the strangest? Do you happen to know some other strange rituals that were performed by the Vikings? Let us know!