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.