Interior of a reconstruction of a Viking Age feast/banquet/party hall

Vetrnaetr – Vikings Welcome Winter

Pinning down authentic Viking holidays is difficult. Surviving texts say very little about them. Modern day reinventions of Viking culture mix verifiable Viking beliefs with other pagan cultures, and the vast land that Vikings covered during their golden age lent itself to having some celebrations in one area that weren’t observed in others. With Vetrnaetr, the Vikings welcomed winter in October. It is one celebration that is mentioned in surviving texts.

VetrNaetr – Welcome Winter

The Viking calendar consisted of two seasons: summer and winter. The year began with the first day of winter. It is natural that the Vikings would want to celebrate and recognize the seasonal changes in nature and in the work they would do. Vetrnaetr (Winter Nights) was originally three nights, corresponding to the first full moon after the Autumnal Equinox. However, they could be celebrated anytime between the end of summer and beginning of winter. Nowadays, many people celebrate Vetrnaetr with Samhain or Halloween.

Celebrating Vetrnaetr

Like many Viking celebrations, Vetrnaetr featured feasting and sacrifices. The Vikings would make a toast to deities, elves, and ancestors. They would be grateful for the harvest and pray that the next year would be good.

Of course, your celebration doesn’t require you to sacrifice an animal in the traditional way. Instead, you can invite your family over for a feast, set a place at the table for your ancestors, and give thanks for the blessings of the past year.  If the weather permits, you could have a barbecue and, rather than setting a place at a table, pour out a libation for your ancestors.

Supporting Asgard Alaska

Asgard Alaska is working toward opening an authentic Viking village in Alaska. People will be able to experience Viking life through artisans and feasts. If you would like to learn more as we move forward in our quest, be sure to use the form below to join our newsletter.

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Sources: Jackson Crawford, Ph.D.:

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