Written by Morten Pedersen - Sources: DR Gejst, Roskilde Museum, mus.dk, Moesgård Museum, videnskab.dk
The Viking Age hits in books, on movies and in computer games. The Viking museums across the country report new, high numbers of visitors, and the many Viking markets have been well visited over the summer.
But why? I will investigate this further.
The first time I came across Nordic mythology was in the cartoon “Valhalla”, which I later also saw as a cartoon. And what a cool universe! In the early 1980s, my dad started selling various thorshammers in his shop, and now, 25 years later, I sit here selling the same jewelry, and the more I read about the mythology, the more fascinated I become by it. (see our legendary Thor's hammer here.
"Valhalla", the legendary cartoon from my childhood, has just been re-recorded. It's just one of many signs of the great interest that is currently sweeping across the Nordic region - and it is probably also very profitable. The new, big feature film about our Nordic gods had a, seen through Danish eyes, huge budget of 34 million Danish kroner.
The director Fenar Ahmad, who came to Denmark as a 5-year-old, has written the script himself. When he saw the cartoon as a 7-8-year-old, he fell for the saga and the stories, the powers of the gods and their strength, connected with nature. During the filming, Ahmad did not feel the pressure coming from major billion-dollar productions such as "Lord of the Rings", "Game of Thrones" or "Vikings", but instead the pressure came from Peter Madsen - the creator of the cartoon "Valhalla", from the myths and those who cultivate the ace. Ahmad believes that our Nordic mythology has been pressured by big money machines and cinematically has become unrecognizable, with big spaceships and changes in the sagas that fit better into Hollywood - a critique I can certainly support as well. Ahmad wants to tell the legendary Valhalla story that we all grew up with and that is loved by many. His film will hopefully not disappoint us. It will premiere next fall.
The film is one of many initiatives with the Vikings in focus. Sara Heil Jensen from Moesgaard Museum has in the last six months seen a regular boom of Viking-related books: "Viking ships", "The Vikings in Europe", "The Vikings as warriors", "The myths of the Vikings" and "Braid your hair like the Vikings". Her impression is that the word "viking" outside the book promotes the publishers' desire to publish it. This also applies to children's and young people's literature. Nordic mythology is at the forefront, e.g. "Odin's barn" and "Ravnenes whisken", both very good and commendable books.
As with literature, the Vikings have conquered both film and television. Billion-dollar productions such as "The Three Superheroes", "Thor" from Marvel and HBO's "Vikings", the latter in its fifth season, have had huge success.
Even our Danish, Viking-inspired song, “Higher Ground” by Rasmussen, achieved a ninth place at this year's International Melody Grand Prix, even though it is quite popped.
At the time the most popular online game Fortinet, with more than 125 million users worldwide, has just launched the new platform Ragnarok. It should probably also be a success.
Sara Heil Jensen says that this is certainly not the first time we are experiencing a Viking boom:
• First time in the late 1870s, when the Union empire collapsed and Denmark lost Norway
• Second time in the 1920s - 1930s in connection with World War I.
The reason for the current rising interest is due to. Heil Jensen Brexit and Europe's borders, which are in disarray, as well as the pressure on the EU as a union. All of this can mean that in Northern Europe we just dust ourselves off and our identity, move a little closer together and find a sense of community through the stories of our ancestors. Another place that has had a big boom is in the registration for the Viking villages. Here are quite a few people who choose to spend a week of their summer vacation in a Viking village and live like our ancestors. One of them, Lars Troels Møller, is not as fascinated by the asceticism as by all that the Vikings stand for - among other things. adventurousness and power of action, and he tries to take that into his modern life after the holidays. Just being able to bring some values from the 10th century is a fascination in itself.
The Viking holiday children call the myths and stories, and how they can be connected to their everyday lives, good and cool. Perhaps surprisingly, they find it cool not to sit in front of a mobile or tablet. On the contrary - experiencing something new without the use of modern technology is more important for these modern Viking children. Something I think many modern families would like to experience.
In the remake of Peter Madsen's cartoon “Valhalla”, Thor is played by Roland Møller. He undoubtedly has a relationship with Nordic mythology: His arms are littered with tattoos, all of which are inspired by Nordic mythology, and now they get their own lives in the new film. He likes the mythology, i.a. due to the many, also female, gods and that all these gods are wrong, which is not seen in other religions. Balder is hugely vain, Thor is a bit of a hothead and likes to fight, Odin is very greedy and controlling. There are small moral messages between the lines that we can use in our modern everyday life.
According to Sara Heil Jensen, Nordic mythology can be used to confirm that the world is not as black and white as is often claimed. It is very nuanced and acts i.a. about lust, longing, jealousy and deception, which are otherwise taboo areas and are kept out of the religions. In this way, it is easier to believe in and relate to, for small and large people.
The hunt for our ancestors' lost jewelry has in recent years led to a huge increase in detectors around the country. Here, ordinary Danes spend countless leisure hours on the farmer's newly plowed fields in the hope of finding some leftovers from the past, and the many newly found homes, gold treasures, coins and other goodies from the past year speak their own language. So much is being found that the National Museum, which receives the objects, can no longer keep up. Imagine being the first to touch a coin, a sword or a piece of jewelry since the year 900! This feeling is probably too great to be described.
Due. these finds we even have to change the history books, i.a. in terms of music in the Viking Age, religion in the Bronze Age and Ribe's actual founding period. Some big and important changes that will give us a more accurate picture of our ancestors and a better opportunity to take their values with us in our modern and busy everyday life.
I would like to end by saying that I am happy and grateful that we in Denmark have a flourishing relationship with our ancestors. And that in our modern society we can still find joy, inspiration and fascination with the Nordic gods, the lives of the Vikings and our common cultural heritage and how to take values from 900 AD. into the 21st century.
Thanks for reading.