The Norse people were fit, strong and healthy. Apart from living a physical lifestyle, in a land with lots of fresh water, fresh air and raw nature, a major reason for the good health of these people was their diet. Vikings knew how to hunt, trap, fish and cultivate livestock and crops. They had nutritious food in abundance, and had good techniques for preserving and storing food.
The men, women and children of the North ate much better than their European counterparts during the Viking Age. On every level of Viking society, from farmers to kings, meat was part of a meal eaten every day. Being great hunters, Norsemen had reindeer, moose, bear, boar, rabbit, duck, geese and other animals as a regular part of their diet. Meat also came from domestic animals such as cow, pig, sheep, goat and chicken. Being great fishermen meant that fish from lakes, rivers, fjords and the sea, was also a large part of their diet.
Although meat and fish were often roasted and fried, meat was also boiled together with vegetables. Viking Age farmers cultivated vegetables and fruit, but these also grew wild. A wide range of nuts, berries, herbs and seasonings also helped flavor this diet.
From their trips to other countries and empires in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Vikings found spices and different foods than they were used to. Bringing these spices back to Scandinavia helped Viking food taste even better.
Some people think that Viking food was dry and boring, but research shows otherwise. Vikings loved feasts and would celebrate several times a year. Gathering in longhouses, they would feast for several days, eating lavish meals with all kinds of meat and mouthwatering sauces, washed down with fabulous homemade alcohol. At such feasts, roasted horse meat or lamb would be served with beer and mead.
Food has always played a central role in having a good life, and Vikings had a great choice of tasty and healthy food. Healthy food was the fuel that made Vikings strong and durable. Today we can make a Viking meal with ingredients that are the same or similar to what made our ancestors powerful.
A good, healthy diet is essential for a healthy body. Making sure you have a good selection of fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruit in your diet is simple and recommended. Also recommended is a protein rich meal shortly after training or working hard. Eating healthy food regularly and drinking plenty of fresh water throughout the day keeps energy up.
Having a well balanced diet, daily exercise, and daily contact with nature, are essential for healthy mind, body and spirit. It is simple to fry up some fish, or steak some meat on an open campfire, and eating out in nature throughout the year is a fantastic and rewarding exerience.
After a hard day’s work, a man needs a great tasting and fulfilling meal. A great meal makes the day much better, and knowing how to cook empowers you.
A vital man-skill is being able to turn meat and vegetables into a tasty meal. This includes choosing the ingredients, preparing them, and turning them into a healthy dinner. In order to provide ourselves with good fuel, we need to be able to cook food. This isn't about being able to make some fancy dish, but about having the ability and confidence to make a meal for yourself, for your family, and anyone you care for.
Here is a simple recipe for a great tasting and healthy meal for two that is easy to make on a campfire:
2x 200g Beef tenderloin
Heat some of the fat from the beef in a frying pan. Grill the steaks for about thirty seconds on both sides to keep the juices in, then grill for two minutes on each side. Add slices of paprika, onion and cherry tomatoes. Fry in the pan with the beef, and squeeze a lemon lightly over the vegetables.
This is simple to make and tastes absolutely great.
Manhood was not something given in the Viking Age, it was something a boy had to earn. Over several years, young Norse males were told and shown what was needed of them to become men. A Viking man was expected to provide for and protect his family, and Viking men took very seriously the job of preparing their sons for manhood.
According to the oldest Scandinavian law books, a boy was legally considered an adult when he was 12, but generally a boy was considered a man in the Viking Age after he had passed 15 winters. In Iceland, a young male was considered an adult when he was ""hestefør og drikkefør", meaning he was able to ride a horse and allowed to participate in drinking with the other men.
In Viking Age Scandinavia, an extra pair of hands helping out at the farm was a real benifit, so from early childhood, boys had everyday tasks that were needed to be done responsibly. There were many essential skills a boy had to acquire, and these skills were taught by fathers, brothers, uncles, and other grown men in and around the family. Age didn't automatically mean a boy had what was required of him to be regarded as a man by his peers, so young males had to prove their worth.
Viking manhood training had to start early in a young boy's life, as becoming a man in the Viking Age was something that could only be achieved through years of training and experience. Daily training in hunting, fishing, gathering, tending to animals, building, repairing and making equipment, gave a boy the ability to go from being reliant on his parents for food and security, to being totally self-reliant.
A boy only achieved the change of status to a man after being able to successfuly do what was expected of a Viking man. Manhood rituals, such as hunting with a group of other Viking men and combat skills, were transitions that ensured the success of Norse society. The Viking rite of passage was something every Norse boy trained for and longed for. To be looked upon by peers as a man was a very important achievement not only for Norse males, but for all of Norse society.
The most important social institution in Viking Age Scandinavia was the family, and marriage was the core of the Norse family. From the age of 12, a young male could marry, which was the most obvious way for him to be regarded as a man, as providing for and taking care of a family was a very important and adult task. A Viking marriage was a legal contract wich consisted of power, inheritance and property. A Viking wedding was an important transition not only for those being married, but for both the bride and the groom's families, as the wedding ceremony created a legal pact in which both families promised to help each other. In this pact that bound several families, the male head of the family had the final say in important matters. The many years of training enabled Viking men to make tough decisions for the benifit of family and society.
We at the Academy believe that the Viking rite of passage is a neccessity for young Scandinavian men. Therefore, the Academy not only trains students for physical well-being and self-defense situations, we train young men to become self-reliant and mature men. We impart on our students dicipline, a good moral code, an appreciation for their cultural heritage and family, and stage by stage prepare them for the challenges life has in store. This is good for the students, good for their families, and good for Norwegian society.
The Norse people spent much of their time out in nature and became skilled woodsmen and hunters. Modern Norwegians still spend much of their time out in nature, especially during weekends and holidays, and woodsmanship and hunting are still popular year-round activities.
Although much has changed in the last millennium, most Norwegians keep in touch with nature and see the value of nature's life-giving gifts. Throughout the centuries, Norwegians have appreciated the fantastic nature that surrounds them, and just as their ancestors did, modern Norwegians feel that they are an integral part of nature and that they need to work with nature, not against it.
Since the dawn of time, humans have lived in nature and as part of nature. Our ancestors understood the simple truth that everything is connected. We are a part of nature and nature is part of us. Norwegians are almost daily in direct physical contact with nature, and recieve massive health benifits from having this contact.
"Ut på tur aldri sur." This Norwegian saying, which basically translates to "Out for a walk, never sour" is used all the time by a nation of people who go for regular walks out in nature. Modern science is now proving what Norwegians have always known intuitively, that nature effects our character and does good things to the human brain, making us healthier, happier, and smarter.
A walk outside in nature as a health-promoting physical activity is a given, but many modern Norwegians are also embracing walking barefoot out in nature. This the age-old activity stimulates the feet as they press on the gound, something which helps with the body's healing system. Climbing trees barefoot is also an activity that naturally stimulates the hands and feet.
Trees have always been vital to the health of life in Norway, and were of inestimable value for the Norse people. Trees represented a place where food was to be found, they were a source of heat, and were the most important building material. As important as trees were to Norse society, it was essential to not cut down too many trees in one area, as this would create ecological and resource problems.
The people of the North knew that the Earth was incredibly old and had powerful energies, and that all nutrition and everything they needed to be healthy came from nature. It was of paramount importance for the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age to keep the earth fertile. If the nature that surrounded them was fertile, they too would be fertile.
Vikings understood that spending time in nature strengthens the spirit and is very good for the health in general. Modern Norwegians understand this simple fact too, and spend a good deal of their time enjoying nature, in a country that has a surplus of fresh air and fresh water, surrounded by magnificent mountains, forests and fjords.
Get in touch with the Viking inside you, and enjoy the many benefits of being out in nature. Whether it is a walk in the forest or hills, camping out for a weekend, going fishing, or simply grilling your food out in nature, the physical, psychological and spiritual benefits are enormous. When Norwegians do this, they say "God tur", which means "Have a good journey".
Being outdoors was an essential part of life for our ancestors. All of their food and building materials came from the outdoors, so naturally they became experts at surviving and thriving, year round in the great outdoors. "Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær." This old Norwegian saying means "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing." This is the commons sense mentality needed in a land that can have freezing winters that last 6 months.
For hunting and combat training, Vikings used specialized clothing that would withstand the weather and the wear and tear of use in rough terrain. Modern Norwegians also have specialized clothing for hunting and training. This clothing is called either 'Jaktklær' meaning hunting clothing, or ‘Skogsklær’ which simply means forest clothing. Just as our ancestors did, we use skogsklær for combat glima training and camping. It's practical and tough, and exactly what we need for year round outdoor training and being out in Norwegian nature.
The Academy arranges year round outdoor combat glima courses and outdoor survival classes. On such courses, its really easy to get back to our Viking roots and core values. Training combat glima and learning how to survive outdoors is very healthy and fun. Its never the same from month to month, and there is a big difference between being outdoors in the summer, and being outdoors in rain and snow.
The survival course consists of being out in nature for several days, making a shelter and equiment out of natural materials found in the forest, and learning about vegetation and means of surviving out in nature. It's always educational and a great experience.
The Norsemen were great hunters, and for them, the hunt was both a practical and spiritual endeavor. This is still pretty true for most modern Norwegians who hunt, just as our ancestors did, and get to enjoy the practical and spiritual benifits of being outdoors.
Today, we don't need to hunt to find food, we have the luxury of finding all we need in a local store. What we can't get from a store though, is the experience of being outdoors.
Throughout the year, I spend time outdoors. Sometimes its a weekday, but definately on weekends. Sometimes I just take a backpack, and start walking in the nearby forest and hills. When I feel for stopping, I stop and enjoy the great outdoors, spring, summer, fall and winter.
The simple acts of staying outdoors, building a fire and cooking a tasty meal is incredibly rewarding. Being able to fish, hunt, gather, prepare and cook food, is a very important part of becoming more self-reliant and independent. There's few easier ways to become more self-reliant and independent than the outdoors experience.
Interest in Viking life and Norse mythology are massive today, but Tyr Neilsen (57) has been fascinated by Viking life and Norse mythology since he was a young boy and lived in England. When he moved to Norway in the 80s, he married a Norwegian woman and got in-laws that were knowledgeable in this rich heritage.
Thanks to my mother in-law I learned a lot about Norse mythology, and my father in-law introduced me to Glíma, the Viking martial art, says Tyr, who lives in Buskerud, Norway. Here he lives in many ways like a modern Viking and teaches the Viking martial arts.
Tyr has been a consultant for several Norse related books, including a book about Glima. He is committed to promoting Norwegian culture and history, and is recent years he has held exhibitions and seminars at museums, schools and festivals in Norway and Europe.
NORWEGIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE
When journalist Bente Wemundstad interviewed Tyr for Byavisa Drammen and had conversations and discussions on various Viking topics, they hit on the idea of him writing a book about Hávamál with photography to illustrate it. After work on the book had started, they contacted Nova Publishing. Just hours after Bente sent e mails, she received a phone call from publisher Jan Hervig who said that this was absolutely something Nova publishing wanted. Thus began a very hectic journey, literally. Besides diving into the brilliant philosophy that is found within Hávamál, Tyr and Bente traveled to Iceland where the original manuscript is held.
For a long time it seemed that there was absolutely no way to see the original vellum Hávamál manuscript, as it is heavily guarded and only very few have been allowed to photograph it. Eventually Tyr and Bente received a mail from the institute that holds the manuscript, saying that they understood the importance of the work on this book. It was therefore granted an exclusive audience with the original manuscript from the year 1270. Photos had to be taken without a flash in a rather dark room at a museum in Reykjavik.
In the Viking Age, Odin’s speech was delivered as a performance. To recreate the original way of presenting Havamal, Tyr and Bente took exciting photographs of modern Vikings and models out in Norwegian nature and at sea. Together, Tyr and Bente translated the first 80 verses of Hávamál to modern Norwegian, then Tyr translated the whole book into modern English, with the goal that this Norse heritage will be known to future generations.
Edited Byavisa article by Geir Arneberg
Hávamál is one of the most important documents from Viking Age Scandinavia, and is well described as the Wisdom of the North.
Viking Wisdom - HÁVAMÁL - the Sayings of Odin is the most complete book about the Hávamál, and Tyr Neilsen had exclusive time in Iceland with the original 13th century manuscript.
This magnificent book contains the Vikings wisdom in original Old Norse and a new modern translation, exciting photos of Odin and other Norse Gods, and information about the Gods and Hávamál. Also in this edition are insights into the violent history and many mysteries surrounding the Hávamál, as well as information about how Hávamál has influenced the world’s bestselling books and films.
In Viking times the sayings of Odin were delivered as a performance. Here the Hávamál is illustrated with fascinating photographs of models and modern Vikings in Norwegian nature to recreate the original way to present the message
There is much wisdom and inspiration to reclaim here, inherited from our ancestors, from an era that was subsequently named after them. Tyr and co-author Bente Wemundstad worked diligently to create a new translation of the Hávamál, and make the Vikings wisdom more accessible to the modern reader.
Foreword from Dr. Gunnar Pálsson Iceland Ambassador to Norway
Viking Wisdom - HÁVAMÁL - the Sayings of Odin from Nova Publishing in English, in Norwegian, and as an eBook.
The Hávamál book in English can be ordered through your local book store: ISBN: 9788282810593
An English version is also available as an eBook - Available from Amazon: