Norse and Viking Holidays AKA Norhalla Holidays are featured below and you will surprised how many have links to modern celebrations people don’t know came from the Vikings Norse and Germanic peoples. While this is a list of the Top 8 Viking Norse Germanic Holidays is is certainly not a comprehensive list but rather the most significant holidays are included.
The Viking Norse and Germanic peoples had many fantastic Holidays!
Top 8 Viking Norse and Germanic Holidays:
YULE / YULETIDE
Sunset of the Winter Solstice ( approximatly December 20th )
Yuletide is the pre-Christian Germanic Midwinter celebration. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again. HJOL has been inherited by Germanic and Scandinavian languages from a pre-Indo-European language level, and is a direct reference to the return of the Sun represented as a fiery wheel rolling across the heavenly sky. Yule celebrations and traditions at the winter solstice predate Christianity by thousands of years. There are numerous references to Yule in the Icelandic sagas, and in other ancient accounts testifying to how Yule was actually celebrated. It was a time for feasting, giving gifts, feasting and dancing.The Yule holiday is the holiest and most popular of all the native Germanic spiritual celebrations, as Yule marks the return of the God Baldur from the realm of Hel and the loosening of winters grip on the frozen Earth.
DISTING / CHARMING of the PLOW First New Moon in February
Also called ‘Charming of the Plough’ after the Anglo-Saxon spell and ceremony. Recorded as a regular feast only in Sweden, this blessing takes place in early or mid-February. The name means ‘Thing (assembly) of the Goddesses’. In Sweden, it was the first public moot/fair of the year; in Denmark, this is the time when the first furrows were ploughed in the field (an activity much hedged about with folk custom). This is a feast of new beginnings, at which the work of the year to come is blessed.
OSTARA / SUMMER FINDING Spring Equinox near MARCH 21
Ostara is celebrated on the spring equinox around March 21. This feast marks the beginning of the summer half of the year. It is named after the goddess Ostara (Anglo-Saxon Eostre), who was such an integral part of heathen Germanic culture that the Christians stole and absorbed it as their own spring feast which was adapted for the Paschal holiday, and was converted to the Christian Easter. Her name is related to the Germanic words for “east” and “glory”; she was the embodiment of the springtime and the renewal of life.At the equinox, the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. In the northern hemisphere, before Ostara, the sun rises and sets more and more to the south, and afterwards, it rises and sets more and more to the north.
Waluburgis Night (Valborgsmassoafton in Swedish, Vappu in Finnish, Walpurgisnacht in German) is a holiday celebrated on April 30, in Finland, Sweden and Germany.It is named after a woman called “Valborg” (alternative spellings are “Walpurgis”, “Wealdburg”, or “Valderburger”) born in 710 somewhere in Dorset / Wessex as a niece of Saint Boniface. Together with her brothers she later travelled to Württemberg, Germany where she became a nun and lived in the convent of Heidenheim, which was founded by her brother Wunibald. Valborg died on February 25, 779 and that day still carries her name in the Catholic calendar. However she wasn’t made a saint until May 1 in the same year, and that day carries her name in the Swedish calendar.
Viking fertility celebrations took place around April 30 and due to Valborg being declared a saint at that time of year, her name became associated with the celebrations. Valborg was worshipped in the same way that Vikings had celebrated spring and as they spread through out Europe the two dates became mixed together and created the Valborg celebration.
Midsummer is the religious celebration held at the summer solstice. This feast usually falls around June 20-21. Midsummer-related holidays, traditions and celebrations are found in all the Germanic countries of Northern Europe. Midsummer’s eve is considered the second greatest festival of the Germanic holy year, comparable only to the 12 days of Yule.The Summer Solstice is an astronomical term regarding the position of the Sun in relation to the celestial equator. The Summer Solstice is the date with the longest day and hence with the shortest night. This date usually falls near June 21. At the time of this solstice, the Earth is in that point of its orbit at which the hemisphere in question is most tilted towards the sun, causing the sun to appear at its farthest above the celestial equator when viewed from earth.
The name Lammas is taken from an Anglo-Saxon heathen festival which was forcibly Christianized. The name (from hlaf-mass, “loaves festival”) implies, it is a feast of thanksgiving for bread, symbolizing the first fruits of the harvest.heathens mark the holiday by baking a figure of the God Freyr in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it.
Fallfest of is another joyous festival in the Asatru holy calendar, and falls on the Autumn Equinox, and is the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward; the equinox occurs around September 22 – 24, varying slightly each year according to the 400-year cycle of leap years in the Gregorian Calendar. Fallfest represents the second harvest of the season.Bonfires, feasting and dancing played a large part in the festivities. Even into Christian times, villagers cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames, cattle having a prominent place in the pre-Christian Germanic world. (Though folk etymology derives the English word “bonfire” from these “bone fires,”) With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit their hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together.
Winternights is held the 31st of October. Winternights marked the final end of harvest and the time when the animals that were not expected to make it through the winter were butchered and smoked or made into sausage. The festival is also called “Elf-Blessing”, “Dis-Blessing”, or “Frey-Blessing”, which tells us that it was especially a time of honouring the ancestral spirits, the spirits of the land, the Vanir, and the powers of fruitfulness, wisdom, and death. It marks the turning of the year from summer to winter, the turning of our awareness from outside to inside. Among the Norse, the ritual was often led by the woman of a family – the ruler of the house and all within. One of the commonest harvest customs of the Germanic people was the hallowing and leaving of the “Last Sheaf” in the field, often for Odin and/or his host of the dead, though the specifics of the custom vary considerably over its wide range. The Wild Hunt begins to ride after Winternights, and the roads and fields no longer belong to humans, but to ghosts and trolls. The Winternights feast is also especially seen as a time to celebrate our kinship and friendship with both the living and our earlier forebears. It marks the beginning of the long dark wintertime at which memory becomes more important than foresight, at which old tales are told and great deeds are toasted as we ready ourselves for the spring to come. It is a time to think of accomplishments achieved and those which have yet to be made. Winternights also marks the beginning of a time of indoor work, thought and craftsmanship.
Top 8 Viking Norse Germanic Holidays and lesser feasts or days or remembrance:
LESSER FEASTS: Days of Remembrance
There are a number of lesser feasts or holy days that Heathens of modern time keep, as well as holding the traditional ones. Most of these are “Days of Remembrance” for great heroes and heroines of Germanic Heathenry.
January 9 – Remembrance for Raud the Strong (a Norwegian chieftain whom Olaf Tryggvason killed for refusing to convert. The end of a metal horn was put down Raud’s throat; a poisonous snake was then put into the horn and the other end heated to drive it along…). February 9 – Remembrance for Eyvind kinnrifi (whom Olaf Tryggvason tortured to death when he refused to convert, by putting a metal brazier filled with burning coals on his belly). February 14 – Folk etymology has led to this day being called ‘Feast of Vali’ in modern Asatru. Actually, St. Valentine has no demonstrable associations with Vali, nor to the thinly disguised heathen Lupercalia rites which take place on this day. Nevertheless, many Heathens make blessing to this god at this time. March 28 – Ragnar Lodbrok’s day, when we celebrate this famous Viking’s sack of Paris. April 9 – Remembrance for Haakon Sigurdsson (Haakon the Great), one of the Jarls of Hladhir, a great defender of Heathenism in Norway during the brutal period of forced conversion to Christianity. May 9 – Remembrance for Gudrod of Gudbrandsdal, whose tongue was cut out by the Norwegian king ‘St. Olaf’ (not to be confused with Olaf Tryggvason despite the similarity of names and methods. St. Olaf, otherwise known as ‘Olaf the Fat’ or ‘Olaf the Big-Mouthed’, was canonized for his efforts to convert Norway by fear, murder and torture).
This Norwegian martyr spoke out against the tyranny of the Christian fanatic Tryggvason, and urged others to resist him. For this, the king had his tongue cut out. June 9 – Remembrance for Sigurd the Dragonslayer (known in German versions of the story as Siegfried). July 9 – Remembrance for Unn the Deep-Minded, a woman who was one of the great chieftains of the Icelandic settlement. July 29 – death-date of Olaf the Fat. August 9 – Remembrance for King Radbod of Frisia, who, standing at the baptismal font, changed his mind and refused conversion when told that his place in the Christian Heaven would mean his separation from the souls of his ancestors. September 9 – Remembrance for Hermann the Cheruscan, embodiment of German freedom, who kept Germany from being over run by the Romans and suffering destruction of their culture and language such as was experienced by occupied Celtic Gaul. October 9 – Leif Eriksson Day – Remembrance for Leif Eriksson and his sister Freydis Eriksdottir, leaders of the earliest known European settlement in America. October 28 – Remembrance for Erik the Red. November 9 – Remembrance for Queen Sigrid of Sweden. Wooed by Olaf Tryggvason, the relationship ended sharply when she told him that she had no intention of leaving the gods of her fathers and he slapped her across the face. She was the chief arranger of the alliance that brought him down. November 11th – Feast of the Einherjar, in which the fallen heroes in Valhalla, and in the halls of the other Gods and Goddesses are remembered. November 27 – Feast of Ullr and Skadi, Weyland Smith’s Day celebrating the greatest of Germanic craftsmen. December 9 – Remembrance for Egill Skallagrimsson, great Viking Age poet, warrior and rune magician.
Viking Norse and Germanic Holidays Links and Resources:
We will be adding more Viking Norse and Germanic Holidays links and resources below as we find them or as they are submitted to us, Enjoy!
Norhalla, Inc. is owned and operated by the Valkenhaus family and is organized for the preservation and education about Norse and Viking culture, mythology, belief, and history through art and literature. You can learn more about Norhalla’s great contribution to celebrating the Norse and Viking holidays by visiting their website at: Viking and Norse Holiday traditions at Norhalla Website
Learn More About Vikings Norse and Germanic Peoples
To learn more about Viking Heritage and Customs Viking Heritage and Viking Myths you visit this link: Top 10 Viking Myths
To learn more about the distribution of Vikings across all of Northern Europe and Asia Viking you can visit this link: Viking Distribution Map
If you would like to learn more about famous Vikings you can visit this link: Famous Vikings