Tag Archives: Viking

Norwegian Viking Festival at Avaldsnes

Context: My informant remembers a viking festival that is celebrated in his hometown of Tonsberg in Norway. The name of the Festival is where it takes place in the viking village known as Avaldsnes, yearly. They would all gather around the town square as a viking holiday sometimes putting on viking costumes and eat really good food with all his friends and family around.

Context: Tonsberg was a viking trade center and had one of the biggest fortresses in Norway. Tongsbergw as established as a center of power. The place continues for hundreds of years to be rules by kings and cheftains and things like that.

Analysis: The Norwegian Viking holidays, of which there are plenty, usually consist of celebrating a battle or conquest and having a day to remember the triumphant vikings. InAvaldsnes it is more about the history of the city and how it has stood for so long that the people celebrate.

Olsok Day

Informant: July 29th when Olaf the holy (olav den hellige) died in a grand battle in 1030. After he died, that is commonly referred to at least in Norway as the end of the Viking age. He had red cheeks while he was buried, this is a symbol that he was still alive as he was being buried. This is where Christianity took over.

Context: My informant learned of this information from his Parents when he was younger. When he used to live in Norway he would “celebrate” this day on July 29th. His parents instilled values and taught him using old stories of the viking age, personally to my informant he liked to celebrate this Holiday because it reminds him of his parents and their teachings, as well as his own history in Norway.

Analysis: This holiday in Norway is certainly an interesting on with some serious dichotomy. On one hand the people love their viking roots and celebrating a holiday where the viking age ended and Norway was “colonized” into Christianity might be a slippery slope. On the second hand there are certainly more religious people who treat it as a proper holiday. For some it is a day of remembrance and hold more weight than for others.

Swedish Passing of the Jug


For this ritual, the participants form a circle and pass a jar of an alcoholic beverage all the way around until everyone has drunk. At each passing of the jug, they say this to each other (person one starts holding the jug).

Person 1: Per Mattsa!

Person 2: Vud vill du?

Person 1: Jag vill dricka.

Person 2: Så dricka då

Person 1: Per Mattsa!

Person 2: Vad vill du?

Person 1: Hur smakte det? 

Person 2: Känn På!


Person 1: Greetings

Person 2: What do you want?

Person 1: I want to drink.

Person 2: So – drink

Person 1: What do you want?

Person 2: How did it taste?

Person 1: You taste it.


The informant is part of a Swedish-American family and does this tradition on a yearly basis at Christmas time.


This tradition has its roots deep in Swedish Viking tradition according to the informant. They claim it was used to prove whether or not it was poisoned as everyone had to drink it. Another variation of the story is that it was used by royalty and the king was the last one to drink and so he would know that it was safe by the time it got to him. Either way, this tradition is a form of showing unity among the group who is partaking in it at a time of year when this is important to them. Despite having its roots in the Viking tradition it is been adapted to being done at Christmas, like many other pagan traditions when the Catholic church pushed to Christianize pagan traditions. Although now it is not done to show the liquid is not poison, the sharing indicates that all are willing to share the same jar. Like many traditions it gets adapted from its original form, keeping the same outline but now being used in a different setting, all the while helping those involved retain a sense of their heritage.

Swedish-American Christmas Foods


On Christmas Eve the foods are based on the Viking traditional foods in Sweden : 

  • Cold First course: 
    • Beet salad with beets, pickles, herring 
    • Herring 
    • Rye or hard bread with butter and cheese 
  • Warm second course 
    • Ham with mustard 
    • Julienne potatoes with cream and anchovies 
    • Meatballs 
    • Sausages 
    • Cabbage 
  • Dessert
    • Cookies with cream and berries 

Then on Christmas day aside from the leftovers, the foods are based on Christianised Swedish foods:

  • We have leftovers from Christmas Eve for the first course
  • Second course
    • Lutefisk or another more mild white fish 
    • Boiled potatoes 
    • Peas 
    • Bechamel sauce 
  • Dessert
    • Rice porridge with milk, sugar, and cinnamon 
    • Put a peeled almond in the porridge (so it is the same color) and everyone takes it without looking
    • Then we say poems around the table while eating and the person who gets to almond has to pretend like they don’t have it and everyone guesses who got the almond
    • Whoever gets the almond gets a little almond gift 


The informant is the granddaughter of a Swedish immigrant and these are the traditional foods eaten on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for dinner.


The informant’s family is Swedish-American and therefore mixes some American traditions in with the Swedish but relies heavily on the Swedish ones for the majority of what they do. Eating these foods although difficult to get and not always the favorite of the American guests allows for the family to retain part of their identity that they find important. They make an annual summer trip to Sweden and would like to eventually spend Christmas there as well as there are more Christmas traditions that they cannot do as they are not in the right location. Because of this, they do the ones they can which include the food they eat. Retaining the pre-Christian Viking food as well indicates a sense of pride in their heritage and brings them together. Keeping the traditions also helps add a sense of family and fosters an atmosphere of community. The family is very close as a result and all of them meet for all major holidays. The traditions bring them together and give clear boundaries of who is considered family and who is not, as it is a big deal to be invited to partake in the traditions.