A Look Into the Most Fascinating Viking Wedding Rituals

April 26, 2019 4 min read

A Look Into the Most Fascinating Viking Wedding Rituals

Pictures courtesy of Paul Edmundson

We have written a lot in the past about Viking wedding rituals. After all, marriage was a very important part of a Viking's life. It didn't just mean gaining a partner. It meant gaining the possibility of true-born children, uniting two families through blood, and establishing a homestead.

As with many things in their lives, the Vikings had very particular rituals that went along with their weddings. Here are some of the most fascinating ones.

Viking Weddings Were Always on Fridays

Frigg or Frigga was the goddess of marriage, love, and so much more. She was also the wife of the All-father, Odin. Each of the big Norse gods had their own days of the week, during which you should do things to honor them. And Frigg's day was Friday. In fact, that's where the very word, 'Friday' first comes from!

If you wanted to bestow Frigg's blessing on your own nuptials, you needed to be absolutely sure you wedded your beloved on a Friday. This wasn't that hard to do. The idea of a shotgun wedding was very foreign to the Vikings. It took YEARS to plan their weddings, after all. Viking wedding rituals stated that you needed to do it at a very specific time of the year (between the end of the harvest and before the snowfall), and that you needed to accumulate enough food and shelter for everyone invited. You also had to have enough bride-ale for the new couple to drink for the first moon cycle of their wedding.

That's a lot of planning, and it's no surprise that the most auspicious date could be years after the engagement!

The Bride and Groom Exchanged Rings -- and Swords

Part of the groom's duties before he was to be wed was to break into the tombs of one of his ancestors and retrieve a sword. During the marriage ceremony, he would give that sword to his bride. And she would give him an ancient sword from her own family.

This was a way of interweaving their families together so that one family would be as responsible for protecting the other as if they were blood-kin. Viking wedding rituals added a cool layer to this though, that brings it closer to our paradigm.

On the hilt of the sword, simple metal rings would sit. These rings were more or less a symbol of the sword ceremony but were also a way for the bride and groom to bind their marriage.

Thor's Hammer Sat on The Bride's Lap

It was the bride's duty to ask Thor for his blessing (even though it wasn't Thursday/Thorsday!). She would place an imitation of Mjolniron her lap. It was both a symbol of her asking Thor to give her strong children, and also a crude joke-- the warrior god's actual manhood sat atop her womb.

The Viking Wedding Ritual of Bride Running

Since everyone became family at the completion of the ceremony, they still needed someone to serve the ale and mead! At the very end of the ceremony, a foot race would begin. Whichever family made it first to the feast hall would then be served mead and beer by the other family for the rest of the wedding.

In some cultures, the bride was expected to be the winner of the race. She would wait outside the feast hall for her husband to arrive and then he will carry her over the threshold.

It's All About the Hair


Brides didn't really care about their outfits during their weddings. They were more focused on the hair. We've mentioned time and again that Vikings were obsessed with hygiene. Well, this extended to everyone, not just the warriors.

It's not like a bride would wear the raggiest thing they had. But the focus was all on the hair. Intricate braids, the more intricate the better were favored.

And don't get the wrong impression-- the men would be equally clean and groomed.

Gotta Have that Mead

One of the requirements for a wedding was that there would be enough booze. Not just for the celebration but also for the bride and groom after the wedding. 

 



You see, the first full moon cycle after the wedding was considered time for the bride and groom to get to know each other on their own. Often these marriages were arranged, so it would be the first quality time they spent together. And alcohol really helped the couple open up.

Mead, of course, turns any man into a skald, so it was the requirement. Sometimes it was mixed with ale and called a bridal ale. 

Anyway, legends says that this is where the term, 'honeymoon,' comes from.

Have you incorporated any of these traditions into your wedding? Pro-tip: if you're going to celebrate your honeymoon the old fashioned way, you'll need matching, customizable drinking horns. Don't worry though. We've got your back.


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