The Northmen were a strong industrious people that came from Scandinavia and the Germanic Continent. They traveled all over the world and influenced many nation’s cultures and traditions. Northern Folk were freedom loving farmers and cunning warriors. In the next few pages you will learn where our ancestors came from and how they lived. Let’s go on an adventure into the past and learn a little about us.
Where did the Northern Folk come from?
The Northmen came from Scandinavia, which is called Norway, Sweden and Denmark today. Although this is where they mainly came from, their close cousins the German tribes on the Germanic Continent shared common customs and a common language. The blending of these two peoples made the later Vikings.
Scandinavia was a harsh territory made up of dense forests and a mountainous landscape. The weather was extremely cold in the North. In summer, the sun shone for twenty-four hours and in the winter the moon shone for twenty-four hours. Could you imagine having daylight for twenty-four hours? Or night? These Folk were tough people!
Who was the First to write about the Northern Folk?
In 330 B.C., a Greek man named Pytheas gave us much information through other Greeks who had written down what he told them. He called the North land Thule, which means North. He said it was a “rainy sunless place where the inhabitants live by agriculture. They grew millet, which they threshed in covered barns, and they supplemented their diet with herbs, roots, and berries.”
In Thule was a place that wasn’t water, ice, nor air. It was a jelly like substance that explorers called ‘the lung of the sea.’ Then he and his crew sail farther North and found the seas were frozen! This was an unforgiving, rugged place, but among the jagged icebergs and mountainous terrain were beautiful fjords where many Northern Folk made their homes. They had farms, villages and longships along the fjords.
How did they live in the North?
Along the fjords the people lived in family groups called tribes. These tribes eventually turned into villages and then cities. Because of the cruel area they lived in, they developed strong family bonds and cared deeply for their family members. They relied on each other to help out. Many generations lived in one longhouse. Also, because of the drastic seasonal changes, they celebrated the seasons with sacred rituals. The rituals, called Blots, would welcome the sun and bid farewell to the sun. They also depended greatly on crops and good hunting seasons, so they had Blots for those too.
The land was ruthless in the North. Only strong people with strong families survived the cold long winters. It took ingenuity and strength to plant, grow and harvest a garden that would have enough food for themselves and, perhaps, the tribe. Only working together made sure that everyone one would make it to the next spring.
What is Scandinavia like today?
Scandinavia is the land the Northern Folk came from and still live in today. Many of the same customs and traditions are still practiced there. The landscape has barely changed in Scandinavia. The only difference is that there are houses and streets instead of longhouses and dirt roads. The indigenous people still look the same there. The fjords are still as beautiful as ever and there are still icebergs floating around in the North Sea! Look at some pictures of Scandinavia and you will see!