What Viking Traditions Lost After The Christianization?

Posted by Ms Elly on

What Viking Traditions Lost After The Christianization?

Everyone has their days and so did the Vikings. They appeared, they thrived, and they perished.

The aspect we are mentioning here is the Viking tradition that is now long gone. Some of the values are being restored and practised since Vikings have been gaining popularity lately. Looking back at the course of history, the phase that marked the end of many Viking traditions was the Christianization. This piece of writing would discuss three Viking traditions that perished right after the Vikings got baptized. 

Grooming Habit

As far as we know, the Vikings spent much of their time caring for their appearance. Of course, this is in the context of the Medieval time where people did not bathe regularly. 

Caring for the appearance consisted of not only wearing tidy clothes but also bathing a lot. We might see both literal texts and archaeological evidence of this. They can attest to the fact that the Vikings cared a lot about their appearance. 

Inside the Viking graves, the archaeologists found out many combs, razors, washbowls, etc. The Viking men also dyed their hair and their beauty standard was blonde. 

Viking grooming combs excavated by the archaeologist. These Viking artifact attested to the Viking grooming habits

Viking artifacts reflecting their grooming habits which the Christians considered to be vanity

While people from other tribe bathed twice a year, the Vikings did it regularly every month. 

The Christians when exposing to the Vikings viewed their bathing habits as vanity. These Christians always found ways to criticize the Vikings for bathing too much, changing clothes too often, and grooming daily. 

In the belief of the Christians, bathing was a way refusing holiness and most of the Christians monks never bathed. Because they believed that the dirtier they were, the holier they could become. "We all stink" said the Medieval writer St. Bernard. 

As the Vikings changed their religion which most of the time happened in peace, they gradually obliviate their grooming and bathing habits. 

Religious Tolerance

Human history has shown that the polytheistic religions tend to be more tolerant of other faiths than the monotheistic religions. And so did the Pagan Norse. But bear in mind that this is not to say that the Vikings did not view Christians as their enemies. 

Attesting to the hatred that the Vikings harboured in the Christians was that the Vikings often conducted their raids on monasteries. Of course, the hatred was only a minor reason. Other reasons were that monasteries were full of treasures and people inside were not likely, or say able, to fight back the Viking warriors. The monks were no match for the Vikings. 

Viking most likely plundering objects are the monasteries. Here are three Viking traditions that lost when the Christians dominated the Vikings

But after all, the Vikings still hated the Christians no matter how much religious tolerant they might be. And monasteries were the most likely objects for the Vikings to plunder. 

But then the religious tolerance was crossed out when the Vikings got Christianized. Monotheism should have zero-tolerance for other faiths otherwise it would not have "mono-".

The Relationship of Religion andd Government

Before the time of Christianization, the Vikings always attached the religion to politics. For example, many of their important traditional religious festivals and observances were the duty of the Jarl or the chieftain of the clan. These ancient politicians organized and carried out these important events. 

Viking chieftain was responsible for both of their religious and political matters

Viking chieftains and earls were responsible for their religious problems in their society

But when the Christianity dominated Pagan Norse, the Christians put an end to this tradition and handed the responsibility for religions to the Church and monks rather than the political leaders.

This kind of separation was invented to stabilise the power of the church. Because government at that time was unstable and prone to change. Only in the later time of the Medieval age that the monarch became more stable and powerful that they occupied a more active role in the religious matter. For that, they became the leaders associated with holiness as well. 

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