A great 2017

Happy new year to all

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The origin of the tree and wreath

Have you ever wondered why we set up an evergreen tree around this time of year and most of all why do we decorate it? Well the evergreen tree goes way back before Christianity to Romans and Celts, but this blog wouldn’t be called the undercover viking if I didn’t tell you about the viking customs.

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In the period from the 21th and the 12days after the old Norse believed that the layer between life and death was so thin that the dead could walk around at night and bad wights (spirits) would roam and hurt the living. They believed this period to be the in between year, not really one year and not really the new one yet. So nobody went out in the dark by themselves, always in groups and mostly singing (because what do you do when you are afraid, you make noise).

Where does the evergreen tree come in? Well to attract the good house wights and give them a place to live, the old Norse would have a tree outside and decorate it with colored ribbons and same thing with the wreath. The tree only moved indoors after Christianity took over, at first to hide the practice of decorating tree (you should read Jeremiah 10:1-25 which condemns the decorating of tree’s from the forest) and eventually because Christian leaders understood they could not with so the evergreen tree symbolized the everlasting light of the lord (if you cant win, join them).

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Today many people say that Christmas or Yule tide is a commercial game and they might be somewhat right, but even the gifting is something the old Norse used to do right around this period. I keep finding different reasons why, one talks about Thor being the one to bring gifts to his most loyal followers, one talk about giving gifts to your closest friend and kin and yet another talks about giving gifts to keep evil at bay.

So set your tree and hang your wreath, inside or out your house wights will be glad they have a place to hide and the legend says that if you hang bells in your tree and it chimes, its a pleased house wight letting you know you have its blessing.

 

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Yule prelude

So your Facebook must have been spammed already with tree’s, balls, garlands and loads of red and white by now, and of course the traditional “damn its cold” posts. Clearly signs of my favorite season and holiday, before I learned about vikings it was Christmas and now its Yule (its 12 days who can not switch :p).

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I have gathered books and lore from all over and am planning to share what knowledge I’ve gathered during the Yule days, that means from 19 to 31 I will be posting everyday. I will try including cooking recepis I’ve found online (pinterest whooo) and maybe some crafts. I won’t be showing any altar or tree since I have no space what so ever to put one, we can only hope that Njord will look to us the coming year so we can buy our own little place.

 

There we go, keep an eye out for the next post.

Viking Thing

A day late I know, but I have been very sick yesterday and I really didn’t feel like starting up my pc. So below the full “report” on our first Viking Thing. All pictures are courtesy of Inge Devos Photography 

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The viking thing is a yearly event organised by the Njardar belgian vikings, this year was the fourth edition and our first 🙂 We had a fantastic time and great weather, we were able to set up Friday after noon so all was ready and set for visitors on Saturday. I’m still amazed how fast we can set up our geteld, after 10 minutes our tent was set and we started with the tarpaulin (which went surprisingly easy with just us 2, considering last time we needed to go ask for a hand).

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Around 10 pm we were invited to a bonfire opening of the weekend with a horn of mead being passed around and a horn of apple juice for the kids :p needless to say we drank our fair share before turning in.

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Saturday there was an official opening of the Thing with a ceremony for the gods, we said thanks for the past year and left offerings for the year to come. Again a horn was passed around and some people said kind words, words about lost relatives and friends. It was very touching, I have to admit I had to fight back tears at some point.

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There was also an archery contest that hubby wanted to take part in, so he went to practice for about an hour and he was hitting the target right in the middle. But when the contest started his shots sucked and he “lost”. Better luck next time.

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And of course you cant have a thing without a decent market, look at all those pretty skins. Hubby bought a sheep and I’m jealous its that pretty, long gray wool and super warm.

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We have had a wonderful time and we already are looking forward to next year, last stop this year is Teylingen which is next week.

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Still have loads to do, fix hubby’s tunic, finish sewing on the rabbits to my kaftan, finish hubby’s gloves… PFFFF

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Better late then never

So I haven’t posted in waaaayyy to long and I promised a post every week, mea culpa, Im sorry 😦

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21855625This is the book I bought at Castlefest and I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised, it was a very good read and I’m rather upset I didn’t take home the second book.

The story is located in the country Riona, a land torn apart by war, in which a young girl grows up as a slave. Turns out she is the long lost daughter of the old rulers and destined for greatness, the goddess of Riona helps the girl in her quest for vengeance and her rightful place on the throne.

I met the author at Castlefest and she was super nice, Femke De Vos is actually from Belgium and better yet from my province (West-Vlaanderen). We had a little chat where she asked us what we liked to read and explained a bit what books she had on the stand (all book from the same publisher called Celtica publishing), what I liked the most about her is that she first recommended a book from an other author because she thought I would like it better. After I read a random page (yes this is how i choose books, I flip it open on a random page and read it. If I like it it comes home if not it stay on the stand) I declined that book and she suggested her book. Same technique here and I have to admit I was doubtful, I liked what I read but after reading the backflap I wasn’t so sure anymore and the hubby just told me to take it (one can never have too many books)

The cover doesn’t scream fancy but trust me its a great book at the moment its only available in dutch, but I hope she will get it translated. I think I’ll go pick up the sequel next month.

I have also started reading the Marked book series, whiiii vampires ^-^ I bought the first and second book at a yard sale so I fear its going to be a search to find the 4 other book in the series 🙂

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So that’s it for now, in 2 weeks we go to the Thing at Elewijt and I still have loads to do.

Yes yes yes, it’s hard to be a viking!

Wow, what a weekend it has been. Our first event is over and I am happy we got to meet new people and show our worth. We had some crap weather but our tarpaulin and tent sure made me proud, they stood fast and not a drop of rain came trough the tent. My shoes on the other hand… not so much.

The visitor turn out wasn’t so fantastic, some were afraid to come close and watched from a far. We didn’t sell any of our candles, but the lack of a price tag might be a reason.

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We tried out a new way of setting up the tarpaulin, giving us more “living” space, however the wind come from a bad direction making sure all the smoke from the fire blew straight in our faces. But smoked meat lasts longer 😉

We had a nice line of friends, first us then Kris with his leather works, then Kristof and Angelique with the mead, then Bruno with his kid friendly set up (his moto is you can look with your fingers) and last but not least was Dirk the native american.

Bonus for us we had entertainment right before us, the battlefield.

The guy in the white gambeson inspired me for the titel, this Swedish viking (I forgot to ask his name: update his name is Jocke) kept yelling “Yes yes yes, its hard to be a viking!”. His set up, together with 2 Celts, included a viking triathlon. First you had to shoot a couple of arrows, the you had to trow an axe and finish by trowing a hammer as far as you could.

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It was a great weekend and even though we had crap weather the first day we had a great time. I was so surprised how tight the reenactment family is and I’m glad we decided to be a part of it.

We might not have sold anything (which wasn’t our main purpose anyway) we sure bought stuff. I’m now the proud owner of a brass needle case (thank you hubby), some wool for the hubby’s new gloves, a small fibula to close my kaftan (post of my kaftan will follow) and some candy 🙂