How the Vikings Named their Children: Ausa Vatni and Nafnfest

Posted by Ms Elly on

How the Vikings Named Children: Ausa Vatni and Nafnfest

The Viking baby had to endure many hardships since they were born. Ever since their first cry saying hello to the world, the adults would examine it for any physical disabilities. If yes, the children would be abandoned into the forest and left there to die. But once they passed the test, they could join the naming ritual which took place once in a lifetime. 

When the mother managed to deliver her baby, the baby would be placed on the ground. The father would come there and pick up the baby. This presented the fact that the father accepted the child to be his offspring. 

Viking children and the naming ritual in the Viking tradition

It was the father who examined the child whether he had any physical problems or disabilities. And he had to judge whether the child he was holding had a future or not. This process decided the fate of the child: whether to live with their parents or to be abandoned in society. 

If nothing wrong happened to the child, they would endure the ritual Ausa Vatni. This ritual was carried out by sprinkling the water over the baby and gave him/her a name. 

Viking children and mother

The ceremony was an ancient and formal ritual dating back to the Old Norse time. To leave the child in the jungle till death was considered to be murder after the formal ceremony. Northern Frankish tribes practised this ritual in their daily lives. The scholars believed that the baptism of the Christians somewhat resembled the Ausa Vatni of the Vikings. 

And a gift was also given to the child whether the family was rich or not. It was called the Nafnfest which meant the Name Fastening. 

The parents, especially the fathers, would give their newly-born child a gift, for example, a ring, weapons, or other tokens. Those gifts were commonly related to the farms or the lands. 

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