Living in the harsh climates of the north requires a different type of behavior compared to what one might find farther south. Where a person’s very survival relies on finding a warm place to stay the night, cabins in the Alaskan woods are often left unlocked and stocked for the wayward traveler. Someone lost in the woods, facing a storm, may not find a gourmet meal, but they will find wood for a fire, cans of ready-to-eat food, and a plank to rest on. Because of their similar relationship with the elements, Vikings understood the grave consequences of facing the winter and traveling. Thus, Viking hospitality and generosity, hallmarks of the Viking culture, were deeply ingrained in their society.
Viking Host Hospitality and Generosity
A traveler showing up to a Viking farmstead in the dead of winter was often a cause for celebration. Visitors brought news, new stories, and a reason to feast. Even when visitors came at hard times, Viking culture required that the host do his or her best to house, feed and clothe the traveler. Those who were stingy would gain a bad reputation and face negative social consequences as a result.
Travelers who make use of the unlocked cabin in Alaska are expected to replace what they can. Most of the time, this means finding some wood to replenish the supply they used to stay warm in the evening. They are also expected to move on in a timely fashion, so as not to deplete the nearby, scarce resources.
Vikings felt the same way. They understood how hard life was, and they valued having a good name. For guests, it was important to stay only as long as necessary and t move on to the next farmhouse. That way, they wouldn’t overstay their welcome, and they wouldn’t deplete the supplies that the household worked so hard to gather earlier in the year. Sometimes, a traveler could compensate for the lodging and food through gifts or work. When the traveler needed hospitality again, he would find the farm doors opened joyfully rather than reluctantly.
Extending Hospitality and Generosity
You can partake of Viking hospitality and generosity in the north with a donation to Asgard Alaska. The first step to our project, after purchasing the right piece of land, will be to establish primitive camping sites. These will be places where campers (and travelers) will be able to enjoy the amazing nature that Alaska has to offer. As we grow, we will expand our offerings to include additional activities, a longship, a Viking village and more.