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Nordic FAQ - 2 of 7 - NORDEN

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A Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) file for the newsgroup
S O C . C U L T U R E . N O R D I C
*** PART 2: NORDEN ***

How does one define "Scandinavia" and "Nordic
What is "Nordic"?
What is "Scandinavia"?
What is "Baltic"?
What makes the Nordic countries a unity?
The Sámi people (not Lapps!)
Who they are?
Sámi history
Sámi cultures
Sámi mythology
Sámi languages
The Sámi as citizens
The Sámi today
SANA - The North American Sámi Association
@ The Sámi in Internet- a linklist
What do we know about Scandinavian mythology?
Short introduction to the sources
The World Tree Yggdrasill
The Creation of the world
Asgard, the realm of the Gods
The Gods
The Goddesses
@ Trolls and other beings
Introduction to the History of Norden etcetera,
Norden in prehistoric times
Iron Age
Where did the Vikings travel?
Place names in Old Norse
What about those horns in Viking helmets?
Medieval times
Christian and pre-Christian laws
Modern Nordic History in a Nutshell
Political history & co-operation
The essence of Nordishness
What is Janteloven (the Jante Law)?
A Nordic national character?
@ Sex, drugs and censorship
Domestic partnership
Censorship in the Nordic countries
Drugs in the Nordic countries
Nordic socialism and welfare
Wouldn't the Nordic economies gain from
abolishing the Socialism?
Don't the Nordic states have huge welfare
But you do pay terrible taxes, don't you?
Now, when the Soviet Union has fallen...
What are the differences of the economies?
@ Valborg, Midsummer and other festivals
@ Valborg
@ Midsummer
! Lucia
! Christmas
Nordic alcohol customs

Subject: 2.1 How does one define "Scandinavia" and "Nordic Countries"?

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
   It may seem a bit silly, but this is actually a topic that every now
   and then causes rather heated discussions in s.c.n. So I'm going to be
   pretty thorough here.
  2.1.1 Background
   The Roman historian Pliny the Elder mentions in 67 CE an island called
   "Scadinauia" in the sea at the edge of the world, north of Germania.
   This, as it dawned much later to the civilized world, was in fact no
   island but the southern tip of Sweden, the province of Scania (Skĺne).
   The name is thought to be related to the word "skada", or "damage"
   that could be done to ships by the sand reefs outside southwestern
   Sweden. The "-avia" ending, on the other hand, probably comes from a
   word meaning "island", cf. contemporary Norwegian "řya". Thus the
   original definition of the word "Scandinavia" was purely geographical:
   it referred to the Scandinavian peninsula -- contemporary Sweden and
   Later, as people became more conscious of their culture, formed
   political unions, colonized previously uninhabited areas and conquered
   the land of their neighbours, the definition of the word started to
   stretch. "Scandinavia" became more a political and cultural concept
   than a geographic one. And since cultural boundaries tend to be less
   clearly definable than geographic ones, and political boundaries on
   the other hand move around quite a bit, the current use of the word is
   a bit of a mess.
  2.1.2 What is "Nordic"?
   Another term used of the countries covered by this FAQ is, of course,
   "Nordic countries", coming originally from French ("Pays Nordiques").
   It was at first used of "northern" (European) countries in general,
   but with the common political, economic and cultural development of
   Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, the term has in English
   widely become established as referring exclusively to said five
   countries (still, not everyone agrees; you may, for instance, find
   Canadians who are under the misconception that *they* are Nordic :-> .
   Some examples from dictionaries:
   [Webster's Third New International Dictionary]
   4. of or relating to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

   [Oxford Reference Dictionary]
   2. of Scandinavia, Finland or Iceland.

   In the Nordic languages, one has the term NORDEN ("Pohjola" or
   "Pohjoismaat" in Finnish) which is commonly used of the five Nordic
   countries which since 1956 cooperate in the Nordic Council. Some have
   tried to implant this term into English, but without much success so
   far. It does, however, occur every now and then in this newsgroup.
   In addition, it should be noted that after the fall of the Soviet
   Union, Latvia and especially Estonia have expressed a wish for
   extensive co-operation with the Nordic countries, emphasizing their
   many historical and cultural ties with Norden. If the Nordic Council
   manages to justify its existence even as Finland and Sweden have
   joined the EU (some politicians in the Nordic countries have
   questioned the importance of the NC in the current political
   situation), we may yet see Estonia and Latvia joining.
   The "Nordic race" is a topic which now and then get brought to the
   groups attention. Mostly by people living abroad. Usually the Nordic
   participants in the discussion produce disappointment on the other
   side, by stating that we consider the typical nordic look as un-exotic
   and un-sexy.
   Arne Kolstad writes:
          This is confusing, but nevertheless:
          While "Nordic" means somewhere a bit North; I think it is
   mostly understood as a (recently) politically defined collection of
   countries, including Scandinavia, Iceland and Finland. At least that
   is how it is understood in these countries. As a linguistic unity,
   Norden hangs well apart. In general, however, we dislike each other
   enough to form an active neighbourhood.
          Cultural relationships with other regions - Westwards for the
   Germanic, Eastwards for the Fennic - are interesting. If there is a
   political process with the outcome of defining them as Nordic (like
   the one some Balts are trying to establish), then so be it. I can't
   see, though, that poor old Scotland stands a chance as long as the
   evil empire rules.
  2.1.3 What is "Scandinavia"?
   The word "Scandinavia" presents a bit more difficulty. In Nordic
   languages, the meaning is quite clear:
   Sweden, Denmark, Norway (and sometimes Iceland)
   -- the ancient lands of the Norsemen.

   The Scandinavian peninsula, on the other hand, is usually simply
   understood as comprising Norway and Sweden, despite the unclear border
   to the Kola peninsula. The northernmost part of Finland is of course
   also situated on the Scandinavian peninsula.
   But in English, alas, there seems to be no standard usage. This is
   mainly due to the fact that English lacks a simple and clear term for
   the five countries, and the word "Scandinavia" tends to be used for
   that purpose instead. The term "Nordic countries", in its current
   definition, is a rather recent invention, its meaning is still a bit
   obscure especially to non-Europeans, it's awkward to use and to some
   people it carries unpleasant connotations of the Aryan "Nordic race".
   Therefore, you will find that it's quite common to define the word
   "Scandinavia" in English like this:
   [Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English]
   1. of the countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland
      in northern Europe, or their people or languages.

   On the other hand, it is not uncommon to use the word "Scandinavia" in
   its more limited definition. An example:
   [The Concise Oxford Dictionary]
   1. a native or inhabitant of Scandinavia
      (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland).

   And some encyclopaedias put it like this:
   [The Random House Encyclopaedia]
   1. region of northern Europe consisting of
      the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway and Denmark;
      culturally and historically Finland and Iceland
      are often considered part of this area.

   Despite the term being rather clear for the Scandinavians themselves,
   disputes remain about how the term would be understood and derived in
   English. If the word is understood as a geographic term, how can then
   Denmark be included - as most do. If instead it's deduced from the
   area where the languages are quite similar North-Germanians, should
   Iceland logically be excluded?
   At the risk of disturbing some people's sleep, we will use "Nordic"
   and "Scandinavian" interchangeably throughout this FAQ, for practical
   reasons. You have been warned. :->
  2.1.4 What is "Baltic"?
   "Baltic" as a single word is in itself a bit vague, because it can
   mean either the Baltic peninsula (Balticum) or the Baltic sea (Mare
   Balticum), and it depends on the context where it's used.
   But, when this "Baltic" is used in connection with the word "country",
   there are two distinct concepts:
     * Baltic countries - countries in Baltikum (Estonia, Lathvia,
     * Baltic Sea countries - all countries around the Baltic Sea.
   The latter is normally used in connection with environmental issues
   concerning cooperative protection of the Baltic sea, and in some other
   efforts of public utility - such as occasional Miss Baltic Sea

Subject: 2.2 What makes Nordic countries a unity? From the Viking age onwards, the Nordics have fought each other, formed unions with each other and ruled over each other. Sweden ruled over Finland for over 600 years, Denmark ruled over southern Sweden also for over 600 years (or, alternatively, Sweden has ruled over eastern Denmark for the past 300 years) and over Norway for nearly 500 years, while Norway ruled over Iceland for some 200 years and Denmark yet another 500 years, and the list goes on (but Finland hasn't ruled over anybody, and is very envious because of that :-> . Unavoidably, this has caused some anti-pathies, but it has also made the Nordic cultures more uniform. 2.2.1 Culture Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland shared a more or less homogenous "Viking" culture in the Viking Age (800 - ~1050 CE), and Finland, while not strictly speaking a "Viking" country, did have a "Viking age" and a culture very close to its western neighbours, and at the close of Viking age was united into the Swedish kingdom. Scandinavian culture today could be described as a potpourri of this "original" culture, medieval German influence, French influence in the centuries that followed, and several other smaller sources, not forgetting local development and national romantic inventiveness, of course. A significant factor is also the fact that the Nordic countries never had an era of feudalism to speak of; personal freedom is highly valued here. One of the expressions of this freedom is the Allemansret / Allemansrätt ("Everyman's right") in Norway, Sweden and Finland, giving all residents free access to the forests, seas and uncultivated land. The Nordics are rather heavy drinkers, the "vodkabelt" goes right through Finland, Sweden and Norway; the Danes are more of a beer-drinking nation, but don't say no to a glass of akvavit either. Smörgĺsbord with pickled herrings and open-faced sandwiches is no rare sight. Women are emancipated. Towns are clean and well-functioning enough to make a Swiss clocksmith feel at home. And so forth; myths and stereotypes about Scandinavia are many. Some of them are, of course, less true than others, but their very existence illustrates the fact that we do have quite a lot in common. 2.2.2 Religion The Germanic pagan religion has left its mark on customs and festivals; celebrations with bonfires and maypoles mark the Finnish and Swedish midsummer, and the Nordic Christmas bears many similarities to the midwinter feast of the Vikings, starting with the word for Christmas (sw. Jul, fin. Joulu) which comes from the Old Germanic word "hjul", meaning the wheel of the year. Trolls and gnomes still inhabit Nordic households, although the once revered and feared mythical beings have been reduced to the lowly caste of soft toys. The Finns and the Sámi ought to have a common set of folklore and old relicts of religious traditions, but it is rather hard to find a common denominator for Fenno-Ugric traditions. For instance are the Sámi the only Fenno-Ugrians where shamans are known. Probably the Finns and the northern Germanians have made impressions in both directions. In any case: Bears had a central role in myths and rites, and beings ruling the nature, Haltia in Finnish, are more central in the Finnish and Sámi tradition than among other Nordeners. The Nordic peoples were converted to Catholicism in the 10th to 12th centuries, but the Lutheran reformation embraced in all Nordic countries wiped out most of the Catholic customs and memories in the course of the 16th century. Having become a stronghold of protestantism against Catholics in the south and Greek Orthodox in the east had some unifying effect on Scandinavia even though wars between the countries kept raging on; religion was, after all, the most important basis of one's identity well into the 18th century. The Lutheran ideal was to require the common people to be able to read the Bible on their own, which had a enormous educating effect on the Nordic peoples. This, along with the protestant work ethic, had a significant role in the forming of the Scandinavian societies, enabling their economic and cultural growth and the pioneering work that the Nordics have played in decreasing social inequality. No doubt it also shaped the national character of each country to a similar direction (a common complaint in Norden: we're such joyless, grey and angst-ridden people ---> it's all the Lutheran Church's fault! :-> Even today, all five Nordic countries have a Lutheran state church to which a vast majority of the population belongs (there is of course full freedom of religion granted by the constitutions of the five countries). Paradoxically, this is probably the reason why Scandinavians are among the most secular peoples on the face of the earth. Despite its seemingly all-pervasive presence in various state institutions and the ceremonies guiding the life of the average Scandinavian, Lutheranism has in most parts of Scandinavia retreated to the fringes of culture and has little meaning to the average person. Church attendance is record-low, the liberal morals hardly reflect specifically Lutheran ideals, religion is no major issue in politics, etc. The official, institutionalized religion offered by the state churches has to a large extent vaccinated the Nordics against Christian fundamentalism of the American kind. 2.2.3 Geography Norway, Sweden and northern Finland form the Scandinavian peninsula more than 2'000 kilometers from south to north. Denmark is a peninsula stretching out from continental Europe, accompanied with an archipelago of large and small islands, while Iceland is situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Except for Iceland, the countries are situated relatively close to each other, often sharing borders with one another. They do not really form a geographical unit, but this is rather irrelevant since seas and waterways have historically, instead of separating peoples, united them. And we are, after all, talking about the best seafarers of ancient Europe. Finland, Sweden and Norway receive many tourists camping outdoors and hiking in the (relatively) unpolluted wilderness, taking advantage of the "Allemansret" (the General Right of Public Access) - the ancient right to move over land and waters of others, and to pick berries, and mushrooms, as long as one doesn't disturb and doesn't cause harm. Some tourists even travel by bicycle. Since the kingdom of Denmark includes also the autonomous area of Greenland (area: 2.2 mill. km˛, pop. 53,000) the area which could be regarded as "Norden" is huge. 2.2.4 Language Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese are all North-Germanic languages developed from the Old Norse spoken in Viking age Scandinavia. (Also English is classified as a Germanic language.) A Swede, a Dane and a Norwegian can understand each other with varying degrees of difficulties, but none of them will fully understand Icelandic or Faroese without studying the languages. Finnish is an entirely different case, it's a Finno-Ugric language related to Estonian and Hungarian. There is, however, a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, which ties it linguistically to Scandinavia. Also, Finnish is related to the Sámi languages spoken in Norway, Sweden and Finland by the Sámi or Lapps, the aborigines of northern Scandinavia (and the Kola peninsula and adjacent lands). Melodic accent & glottal stop Norwegian and Swedish except Finland-Swedish belong to the few European languages with a melodic accent. (Others are Lithuanian and Serbo-Croatian.) The way this melodic accent is expressed vary quite a lot between different dialects, but the dichotomy exists everywhere having an important role to differentiate between words which otherways would have been confused. Words with one syllable, words stressed on the end and short words with an unstressed suffix usually has what could be called "one syllable accent" (rarely marked, but then by acute accent). Words derived from two-syllable roots usually have an almost equal stress on both syllables. In south Swedish dialects the "one syllable accent" is expressed as a falling tone on the first syllable, while "two syllable accent" is expressed as a rise and a fall of the tone on the first syllable. Questions are expressed by a rising tone on the second syllable. In most Danish dialects (and some Scanian too) this melody accent has been replaced by a glottal stop (střd) in place of the "one syllable accents". Are linguistic definitions of any value? Maybe not, but nevertheless they show up now and then in the group. An example: Dr. R. Rautiu <> writes: Contemporary Germanists are dividing the North-West Germanic branch in a 1. Continental branch comprising: Swedish, Danish, Bokmĺl (Norwegian) 2. Insular branch comprising: Icelandic, Faeroese and sometimes Nynorsk (closer to insular than continental linguistic traits), some specialists put Nynorsk as a transitional language between the continental and the insular groups. Tor Arntsen <> replies: About trying to group Nynorsk and Bokmĺl to different East/West Nordic groups: It's really a red herring as Nynorsk and Bokmĺl exist as written languages only. No one actually speaks Nynorsk for example. The same goes for Bokmĺl. Some dialects would be "closer" to either one or the other, depending on what you end up with if you try to create a "written" form of a dialect. Norwegian language has as many dialects as there are cities and villages and valleys and fjords, and there is no way to create a common written language from that. Bokmĺl and Nynorsk are just two constructed written languages, where Bokmĺl is something that once upon a time came from written Danish, and Nynorsk was constructed from south-west Norvegian dialects -- and some personal colouring from the constructor (cultural and political). Eugene Holman writes: The majority of the traditional inhabitants of Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and some regions of western Finland speak closely related Germanic languages belonging to the North Germanic ( = Scandinavian = Nordic) subgroup. North Germanic is a subgrouping within Germanic (formerly called Teutonic). Thus English, German, Yiddish, Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian, Lezebuurjesh, and the now extinct Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, Old High German, Gothic, Burgundian, Vandal, Longobardian, etc. are all Germanic or Teutonic languages ( - but they are not Nordic languages). The late Einar Haugen, one of the leading authorities on the Scandinavian languages, once characterized Norwegian as "Danish spoken with a Swedish accent". The essential difference between the three Scandinavian languages is that Danish and (Bokmĺl) Norwegian have a long history of shared culture and vocabulary which Swedish lacks, while Norwegian and Swedish have many shared features of pronunciation, which Danish lacks. Actually, the truth is somewhat more complex, since Norwegian and Danish have radically simplified their pronunciation and grammar in a way that Swedish has not, but the pronunciation of Danish has subsequently been influenced by that of German, while Swedish and Norwegian have not. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.3 The Sámi people (not Lapps!) This section by Kari Yli-Kuha (being revised - last edited 98/03/21) A more recent version might be found at <> 2.3.1 Who they are The Sámi people are one of the aboriginal peoples of the Fennoscandian area, (meaning here: Scandinavia, Finland, eastern Karelia and Kola peninsula) and for long they lived more or less disconnected from the European civilization. They are often referred to as Lapps but they themselves prefer to be called Sámi (Saamelaiset/Samerna) because Sápmi is the name they use of themselves and their country. There is also a very old name vuowjos which has been linked to the Sámi. The Sámi languages (there are several of them) are Finno-Ugric languages and the closest relatives to the Baltic-Finnic languages (Finnish, Estonian). Sámi people live nowadays in an area which spreads from Jämtlands Län in Sweden through northern Norway and Finland to the Kola Peninsula in Russia. 2.3.2 Sámi history The origins of Sámi people have been researched for long but no certain answer has yet been found. The name "Sámi" has the same origin as the names "Suomi" (Finnish name for Finland), and "Häme" (Tavastia, an area in southern Finland) and comes originally from the Baltic word "Sämä" - meaning the area north of Gulf of Finland, i.e. current Finland. Anthropologically there are two types of Sámi people, the eastern type which resembles northern Asian peoples, and the western which is closer to Europids; blood survey, especially in this century, indicates western rather than eastern heritage. Perhaps the Sámi identity should therefore be seen more as a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life, rather than as anything genetic - people who adopted the Sámi way of life became Sámi. It is believed that the original Sámi people came to areas now known as Finland and eastern Karelia during and after the last ice age, following herds of reindeer. Prehistoric (some 4000 years old) ski findings by the Arctic Sea show that there was some sort of Sámi culture living there already at that time. Some 1500 rock drawings have been found in the areas where they lived, e.g. by lake Onega and in Kola peninsula; the easternmost of them are 5000 years old. Some archeologists have linked the oldest known Scandinavian stone age culture, the so-called Komsa culture by the Arctic Sea, to the ancestors of the Sámi. Historians now also note that Ghengis Khan wrote that the Sámi (or, Fenner as they were then called), were the one nation he would never try to fight again. The Sámi were not warriors in the conventional sense. They simply didn't believe in war and so they "disappeared" in times of conflict. The Sámi remain one culture that has never been to war but are known as "peaceful retreaters" adapting to changing living conditions, whether they were caused by nature or by other people. Anyway, it is known that the Sámi people are the original people in the Fennoscandia area. Many names even in southern Finland and central Sweden are of Sámi origin. There was a Sámi population in those areas as late as the sixteenth century. The Sámi are known to have fished and hunted seals on the west coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, but in the late Middle Ages the Swedish agricultural population "invaded" the coastal area, pushing the Sámi further north. The same happened in Finland so that now the original Sámi people can only be found north of the Arctic Circle. 2.3.3 Sámi cultures Sámi people have always settled thinly in a large area, making their living mostly hunting and fishing, families having large hunting areas around them. Connections to other people were rare although they had a strong sense of community thinking when it came to dividing hunting/fishing areas between families, and, of course, the marriages were made between people in nearby regions. This seems to be the major reason why there is no one Sámi culture and language, but several Sámi cultures and languages. The cultures have been formed both by different surroundings and living conditions and varying contacts with other cultures; in Sweden and Norway the Germanic culture, in Finland the Finnish culture and in Kola peninsula the Russian and Karelian cultures. Forest Sámi Sámi people living in coniferous forests lived mainly by fishing, but hunting was also very important. Most of the Finnish and Swedish Sámi people belong to this group. Families formed Lappish villages ('siida') normally by some large river. The size of the siida varied from just a couple of families up to 20 or 30, totaling some hundred individuals. Watersheds were natural borders between these villages. It was also common to have some reindeer for transportation and for the furs, which were an important material for clothing. A special group of forest Sámi are the Sámi north of Lake Inari because their language differs from the rest of forest Sámi - it's the westernmost dialect of eastern Sámi languages. Fjeld Sámi [ About the word "fjeld": The ice age has shaped the Scandinavian mountains, especially in Lapland, so that the top of them is round, and mostly bare. In some Nordic languages there is a special word for them (fjell/fjdll/ tunturi) to separate them from other mountains. There is also a rarely used English word "fjeld" for the same purpose. The word "fjeld" means here a [treeless] mountain in Lapland. ] The fjeld Sámi are also known as "reindeer Sámi" because the reindeer is by far the most important part of their economy. They live on the fjelds between Sweden and Norway and on the highlands north of it tending their herds. This kind of nomad culture is unique in Europe and as such it has been the subject of a lot of interest. It has been seen as the most typical form of Sámi culture although as such it's only a few hundred years old. It's not nearly as common as the half-nomad forest Sámi culture. The fjeld Sámi do also some fishing and willow grouse (am. willow ptarmigan) trapping. The importance of reindeer in the Sámi culture can be seen in the fact that in Sámi languages there are about 400 names for reindeer according to gender, age, color, shape etc. One special group are the River Sámi living around river Đeatnu/Tana and its tributaries. They lived mainly fishing salmon but nowadays they have some agriculture and domestic animals, and more permanent settlements than the fjeld Sámi. Sea Sámi The first written remark of the sea Sámi living in northern Norway by the Arctic Sea was made in year 892 by a Norwegian tribal chief Ottar. The remark described that "up in the north there are people who hunt in the winter and fish on the sea in the summer". This half-nomad culture is strongly affected by both Norwegian and Finnish inhabitants. They live in two different areas. The Norwegians call the northern people "sjřfinner" and the southern "bufinner". Kola Peninsula Sámi The Sámi living in the Kola peninsula are the original population in that area. The number of Sámi there has remained pretty much the same throughout the years, slightly below 2000 people. They live mostly fishing and reindeering. 2.3.4 Sámi mythology Living of the nature has formed the original conceptions of the world among Sámi; the world view was animistic by nature, with shamanistic features. They believed that all objects in the nature had a soul. Therefore, everybody was expected to move quietly in the wilderness; shouting and making disturbance was not allowed. This beautiful concept still prevails among the Sámi. When speaking about beliefs I deliberately avoid using the word "religion", because among Sámi that word is strictly connected to christianity - instead one should speak about "world of beliefs", or about "a Sámi mindset", however vague that may sound. The Sámi believed that alongside with the material world there was an underworld, saivo, or (Jábmiid) áibmu, where everything was more whole than in the material world and where the dead continued their lives. Eastern Sámi use the word duot ilbmi, "that air" (i.e. afterworld). Important places had their divinities. Every force of nature had its god and sources of livelihood were guarded by beings in spiritual world which could be persuaded to be more favourable. Stállu stories are known in all Sámi cultures. Stállu was a large and strong but simple humanlike being living in the forest, always traveling with a dog, rahkka, and he could some times steal a young Sámi girl to become his wife. It is believed that stállu stories are related to early contacts with Vikings. Some people were capable to foretell future events, or fortune in hunting etc. A person with this special gift could be 'called' and accepted by the community as a noaidi (shaman). A noaidi was capable of visiting the saivo and people from far away would come to him/her for advice. For more demanding "trips" a noaidi sometimes used a "magic drum", much in the similar way as the northern Siberian shamans. In the forest you could find trees which resembled a human body, or you could make one. These were called sieidde (in Finnish seita) and they were worshipped. Also a strangely shaped stone or rock could be a sieidde. Christian missionaries and priests normally didn't understand these Sámi concepts, but regarded them as satanic. Sámi people were converted to Christianity by force and shamanic practices were forbidden. The disintegration of the hunter/gatherer culture and the transition to other forms of occupation meant that the old world view had less significance for the Sámi, although at first the christian beliefs were adopted alongside with the original beliefs. The "Sámi apostle", Norwegian Thomas von Westen (1682-1727) started public education among the Sea Sámi in Sámi language. From 1773 on Sámi language teaching was forbidden and all teaching had to be in Danish until nineteenth century. Lars Levi Laestadius (1800-1861) has had the strongest religious influence on Sámi people and his thoughts spread all over Sámi region although there is evidence that elements of the original religious practices of the Sámi were used as late as the 1940's. Characteristic to Laestadius' ideas is the central significance of parish. This has helped in preserving Sámi culture. 2.3.5 Sámi languages As there are several Sámi cultures there are also several Sámi languages and dialects. It is not exactly known what kind of language the ancestors of the Sámi originally spoke, obviously it was some kind of proto-Uralic language. Now the common theory is that the Sámi languages developed from early proto-Finnic languages side by side with proto-Finnic language, so that there was some sort of proto-Lappic language around 1000 BC - 700 AD. This then developed to various languages and dialects as we know them now. The Sámi languages are regarded as Finno-Ugric languages and their closest relatives are the Baltic-Finnic languages (Finnish, Estonian). It's often hard to decide whether two related forms of speech are in fact different languages or merely dialects of a single language, especially when there are transition areas between them. Commonly the Sámi languages are divided into nine main dialectal areas. The numbers in brackets represent the approximate number of speakers of the language according to the Geographical distribution of the Uralic languages made by Finno-Ugric Society in 1993. 1. South Sámi - in central Scandinavia [500] 2. Ume language [very few] 3. Pite language [very few] 4. Lule language [2 000] 5. Northern languages (Norwegian Sámi, fjeld language) [30 000] 6. Enare language - north of lake Inari [400] 7. Skolt language - in Pechenga [500] 8. Kildin language - in central Kola peninsula [1 000] 9. Ter (Turja) language - in eastern Kola peninsula [500] As there are several languages, there are also several grammars and orthographies for them. The areas 2 - 5 have more or less the same written language but several orthographies. Language 6 has its own orthography whereas areas 7 - 9 use mainly Kildin language in publications. The following description about the history of written Sámi concerns mainly the languages spoken in Sweden. The first Sámi books were religious literature, used for converting the Sámi people to Christianity during Gustav II Adolf's reign in the 17th century. The first books (ABC book and mass book) were made by the priest Nicolaus Andreae in Piteĺ in 1619, but they were in a very clumsy language. The first written grammar was again made in Sweden by the priest Petrus Fiellström in Lycksele in 1738. For a long time the written texts in Sámi languages were solely for religious purposes. Poetry and other literature in Sámi languages is rather recent. In 1906 the Sámi teacher Isak Saba (1875-1921) published a poem Same soga lavla (the Song of Sámi Family) which is known as the national anthem of the Sámi. Four years later Johan Turi's (1854-1936) Muittalus Sámid birra (A Story about Sámi) was published in Sweden. This is probably the most famous volume written in Sámi language. Just as an example what Sámi language looks like here's the first verse of Same soga lavla in the orthographic form proposed by Sámi Language Board in 1978: Sámi soga lavlla Song of Sámi Family Guhkkin davvin Dávggáid vuolde Far in the north under the Plough sabmá suolggai Sámieatnan: looms quietly the land of Lapps: duottar laebbá duoddar duohkin, a fjeld lies behind a fjeld, jávri seabbá jávrri lahka, a lake spreads near a lake, c´ohkat c´ilggiin, c´orut c´earuin peaks on ridges, tops on bare fjelds allánaddet almmi vuostá; rise against the sky; s´ávvet jogat, s´uvvet vuovddit, rushing rivers, wuthering forests, cáhket ceakko stállinjárggat steep steel capes stick máraideaddji mearaide. into roaring seas [ c´ and s´ denote c and s with apostrophe ] 2.3.6 The Sámi as citizens Before the 1600s the Sámi lived their own life more or less undisturbed. They were gradually pushed further north by new inhabitants but it happened peacefully. It is believed that the Sámi were mainly following reindeers and other wild animals which were also retreating further north. In the 1600s, and later, there were some "colonialistic" features in the way the Sámi were treated by the kingdoms ruling over their lands. It was considered "natural" to subjugate cultures that were regarded as "undeveloped" and "primitive". At that time the government of Sweden-Finland had a political goal to have permanent agricultural settlements in the Swedish Lapland instead of sparse nomad inhabitation; it was thought that keeping the area within the state would be easier that way. This is why many Finns were also encouraged to move there. Although the same basic European colonialistic thinking was also common in Scandinavia, it has to be noted that the attitude towards the original people has never been as inhuman as it was in many colonies elsewhere in the world. As a general observation it can be said that as the Nordic countries divided the Sámi territories between states they failed to take into account the Sámi colonies and to let them develop naturally. Instead the Sámi people were forced to adapt to the cultural system of each country. The Swedish king Gustav Vasa declared that "all permanently uninhabited land belongs to God, Us and the Swedish crown". This declaration concerned also the territories where Sámi lived. Because of their nomad way of living they were not seen as "permanent inhabitants". Later the Sámi's right for land was stabilized as certain "family areas". In 1867 in Sweden a new administrational "cultivation border" was formed. It goes several tens of kilometers from the Norwegian border all the way from Karesuando to Jämtlands Län. All land in the Swedish territory was given to the Sámi and only Sámi people were allowed to live there without a separate permission. All activities that are done there need a permission and the money goes to "Lapland fund". The money of this fund is used for reindeering, building bridges, etc. in that area. All this is done by the state and the Sámi people have very little to say about how the money is to be used. There have been discussions about the Sámi's right for the natural resources in their areas between the Nordic Council and the Nordic Sámi Council but so far there has been little progress in this issue. There have been several agreements between the Nordic countries and the Sámi people but they are beyond the scope of this document. All in all, the Nordic countries have not been indifferent about Sámi but due to lack of ethnosociological knowledge the Sámi have been treated as "children who don't know what's best for them". Because arctic occupations favour the individual mind, and the Sámi population is sparse, their own activities as Nordic citizens have developed very slowly. Also, belonging to four different countries doesn't make it easier - on the other hand crossing borders between the Nordic countries has never been a problem. This belonging to different countries has been one factor which has increased the common sense of ethnicity among the Sámi people during this century. Only a few decades ago it was not desirable that Sámi children spoke Sámi with each other in school whereas now, in principle, it's possible to complete university degrees in Sámi language. How many Sámi are there, then? Well, that depends on who is counted as a Sámi and who isn't, as there has been much assimilation and mixing with the rest of the population. Some figures were presented in the chapter concerning Sámi languages. Another often presented statistic tells that there are 25,000 Sámi in Norway, 17,000 in Sweden, 4000 in Finland and 2,000 in Russia. Yet another statistic which only counts people who speak Sámi languages as their mother tongue says: 10,000 in Norway, 5,000 in Sweden, 3,000 in Finland and 1,000 in Russia. 2.3.7 The Sámi Today For centuries the majority population has had a patronizing attitude towards the Sámi, which has affected cultural policy and politics. This policy was abandoned after World War II. This phase was signalled in 1948 in Norway by the official "Proposals for Sámi School and Educational Affairs" from the Coordinating Commission for the School System. A definitive change did not come before 1963, however, when the Norwegian parliament discussed the recommendations of the Sámi Committee of 1956. The official policy then adopted is expressed in the Parliamentary Records for 1962-1963 as follows: "The policy of the national state must be to give the Sámi-speaking population the opportunity to preserve its language and other cultural customs on terms that accord with the expressed wishes of the Sámi themselves." Later in 1980 the Norwegian government appointed two new commissions with very extensive mandates: the Sámi Rights Committee and the Sámi Cultural Committee. At the moment demands for clarification and legalization of local rights in areas traditionally used by the Sámi are under consideration by the Sámi Rights Committee. Since much of this area has diversified use by different Sámi and non-Sámi groups, it has been difficult to arrive at a just and nationwide solution. The Nordic Sámi Council was established in 1956 to promote cooperation among the Sámi in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Council has twelve members, four from each country. Both state authorities and the Nordic Council have recognized the Sámi Council as a legitimate spokesman for the Sámi and have met many of its demands. The Sámi have their own flag which was officially acknowledged in the 13th Nordic Sámi Conference in 1986. The flag is designed by Astrid Behl from Ivgubahta/Skibotn in Norway. The basic idea in the flag is a symbol from a drum. The circle is a symbol of sun and moon - the sun ring is red and the moon ring blue. The colours are also the colours used in Sámi costumes. The Cultural Heritage Act, passed in 1978 in Norway, states that everything which is more than 100 years old and related to the cultural heritage of the Sámi, is automatically protected by law - this is to protect historic sites and monuments. Sámi as an elective language is taught in primary schools in several places in Lapland. Special Sámi high schools are located in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino and Kárásjohka/Karasjok. Sámi language and culture courses are taught at several universities in the Nordic countries. Modern Sámi applied art has largely extended the development of traditional Sámi handicrafts such as horn- and wood-carving, basketry, leather work, etc. Sámi art appears at present to be undergoing an important period of creativity - this applies to music as well. The traditional Sámi folk song, the joik, has won increasing recognition and interest. The Norwegian Sámi Singer Mari Boine Persen has won international fame among world music fans, while in Finland e.g Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (who sang joik in the opening ceremonies of Lillehammer Olympics), Wimme Saari (who mixes joik with ambient techno backgrounds) and the band Angelin Tytöt have gained acclaim. There are five Sámi newspapers, or newspapers intended for Sámi readers, in the three Nordic countries but the circulation figures for them are small. The newspapers and magazines are dependent on state funds for their existence. Radio programs are broadcast in all three countries, in Kárásjohka/Karasjok (Norway), Giron/Kiruna (Sweden) and Anar/Inari (Finland). Plans exist for the establishment of a Nordic-Sámi production center for radio and television programs, but the extent and form of cooperation have not yet been agreed upon. Because of growing Sámi cultural consciousness and sympathetic official minority policies, there is good cause for believing that the Sámi will survive as a viable ethnic and cultural group in Scandinavia. The meaning of "Sámi" will change as the way of life itself changes. The Sámi's own actions and self-conception will be decisive in forming the future meaning of the term - or, as one Sámi scholar put it when asked about the Sámi tradition: "Tradition? As of when? Fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, or a thousand years ago? We adapt our ways to fit the times." _________________________________________________________________ Acknowledgments: I would like to thank Jari Oksanen of Tromsř University and John Blood <> of Sámi Association of North America for their help, opinions and references. References: Karl Nickul: Saamelaiset kansana ja kansalaisina, 1970 Mikko Korhonen: Johdatus lapin kielen historiaan, 1981 ISBN 951-717-248-6 Bjřrn Aarseth: The Sámi Past and Present, Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo 1993 ISBN 82-90036-32-9 Johan Turi: Kertomus saamelaisista, 1979 ISBN 951-0-08410-7 (based on Muittalus samid birra, 1910) SANA Sámi Association of North America ODIN (Offentlig dokumentasjon og informasjon i Norge) [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.3.8 SANA - The Sámi Association of North America (from: Ruth M. Sylte) SANA was formed on 10 April 1994 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The purpose of SANA is to create a strong Sámi presence and an understanding of the Sámi people and Sámi culture in North America. Membership includes a subscription to the North American Sámi Journal, which will continue to function as the official organ of communication for the group. SANA encompasses both the United States and Canada. It has recently been given permanent observer status at the Sámi Governing Council. For more information, contact: Susan Gunness Myers, SANA USA 10010 Monticello Lane North Maple Grove, MN 55369 USA E-mail: <> Faith Fjeld, Editor BAIKI 3548 14th Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55407 USA 2.3.9 The Sámi in Internet (I'd hate to say this, but... this chapter is still very much under construction...) Sámi links: * The Sámi "Parliament" of Sweden. * The Sámi of Norway by Elina Helander, ODIN. * The Sami in Finland by the Foreign Ministry of Finland. * An introduction to the Sami people a web-site associated to the magazine Samefolket. * The magazine Samefolket did a survey of www-sites, and delivered for instance murderous critics of this very site. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.4 What do we know about Scandinavian mythology? Not very much, I'm afraid, and we're lucky to know even as much as we do. For example, most of the ancient poems about pagan deities (they're the most authentic source of Norse mythology) that survived to this date are from a certain book called Codex Regius, the only extant copy of which was rescued in half-rotten condition from an abandoned Icelandic barn in the 17th century. 2.4.1 Short introduction to the sources Although the Vikings were, in theory, a literate people, the runic script was never used for anything more complicated than a few sentences, usually commemorating some person or event, e.g "Bjorn had these runes carved in the memory of Hofdi. He died in Särkland." The runestones and other archaeological material offer clues as to the nature of the Norse religion, and there are some accounts by Christian and Moslem contemporaries of the Vikings -- e.g the bishop of Hamburg, Adam von Bremen, and the Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan -- but the main sources of information are the Eddas, written down in Iceland in the early middle ages. The Poetic Edda is a collection of poems on mythological themes by anonymous poets; even more important is the Prose Edda written by the Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson in about 1220, which is a collection of old heathen myths in prose form. For more about sagas and Eddas, see section 5.5. The medieval Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus can also be mentioned, but he is less reliable and perhaps less interesting to read. The problem with those sources is that they were written down hundreds of years after the conversion of Scandinavians to Christianity, indeed some of the authors (e.g Saxo) were members of the Catholic clergy, and their work is to some extent influenced by Christian and classical ideas. Also, the picture given is no doubt biased towards the particular form of pagan religion practiced in Iceland; while the main deities Odin, Thor and Freyr seem to have been worshiped all over Scandinavia, there must have been a lot of local variation, local deities, differences in emphasis given to the main deities and their aspects, etc. Nevertheless, the stories of the Eddas have become a common cultural heritage of the Scandinavian countries, and at least a basic knowledge of it is a must for anybody interested in Scandinavian culture. The following summary of the main features of Scandinavian mythology is taken from the excellent book Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, by H.R.Ellis Davidson, 1964, pages 26-30, Penguin Books. 2.4.2 The World Tree Yggdrasill This world had for its centre a great tree, a mighty ash called Yggdrasill. So huge was this tree that its branches stretched out over heaven and earth alike. Three roots supported the great trunk, and one passed into the realm of the Aesir, a second into that of the frost-giants, and a third into the realm of the dead. Beneath the root in giant-land was the spring of Mimir, whose waters contained wisdom and understanding. Odin had given one of his eyes to drink a single draught of that precious water. Below the tree in the kingdom of the Aesir was the sacred spring of fate, the Well of Urd. Here every day the gods assembled for their court of law, to settle disputes and discuss common problems. All came on horseback except Thor, who preferred to wade through the rivers that lay in his path, and they were led by Odin on the finest of all steeds, the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. The gods galloped over the bridge Bifrost, a rainbow bridge that glowed with fire. They alone might cross it, and the giants who longed to do so were held back. Near the spring of fate dwelt three maidens called the Norns, who ruled the destinies of men, and were called Fate (Urdr), Being (Verdandi), and Necessity (Skuld). They watered the tree each day with pure water and whitened it with clay from the spring, and in this way preserved its life, while the water fell down to earth as dew. The tree was continually threatened, even as it grew and flourished, by the living creatures that preyed upon it. On the topmost bough sat an eagle, with a hawk perched on its forehead: the same eagle, perhaps, of whom it is said that the flapping of its wings caused the winds in the world of men. At the root of the tree lay a great serpent, with many scores of lesser snakes, and these gnawed continually at Yggdrasill. The serpent was at war with the eagle, and a nimble squirrel ran up and down the tree, carrying insults from one to the other. Horned creatures, harts and goats, devoured the branches and tender shoots of the tree, leaping at it from every side. 2.4.3 The Creation of the world The tree formed a link between the different worlds. We are never told of its beginning, but of the creation of the worlds of which it formed a centre there is much to tell. In the beginning there were two regions: Muspell in the south, full of brightness and fire; and a world of snow and ice in the north. Between them stretched the great emptiness of Ginnungagap. As the heat and the cold met in the midst of the expanse, a living creature appeared in the melting ice, called Ymir. He was a great giant, and from under his left arm grew the first man and woman, while from his two feet the family of frost-giants was begotten. Ymir fed upon the milk of a cow called Audhumla, who licked the salty ice-blocks and released another new being, a man called Buri. He had a son called Bor, and the sons of Bor were the three gods, Odin, Vili, and Ve. These three slew Ymir the ancient giant, and all the frost-giants save one, Bergelmir, were drowned in his surging blood. From Ymir's body they formed the world of men: ... from his blood the sea and the lakes, from his flesh the earth, and from his bones the mountains; from his teeth and jaws and such bones as were broken they formed the rocks and the pebbles. From Ymir's skull they made the dome of sky, placing a dwarf to support it at each of the four corners and to hold it high above the earth. This world of men was protected from the giants by a wall, made from the eyebrows of Ymir, and was called Midgard. The gods created inhabitants for it from two trees on the sea-shore, which became a man and a woman. They gave to them spirit and understanding, the power of movement, and the use of senses. They created also the dwarfs, creatures with strange names, who bred in the earth like maggots, and dwelt in hills and rocks. These were skilled craftsmen, and it was they who wrought the great treasures of the gods. The gods caused time to exist, sending Night and Day to drive round the heavens in chariots drawn by swift horses. Two fair children, a girl called Sun and a boy called Moon, were also set by them on paths across the sky. Sun and Moon had to drive fast because they were pursued by wolves, who meant to devour them. On the day when the greatest of the wolves succeeded in swallowing the Sun, the end of all things would be at hand. 2.4.4 Asgard, the realm of the Gods Once heaven and earth were formed, it was time to set about the building of Asgard, the realm of the gods. Here there were many wonderful halls, in which the gods dwelt. Odin himself lived in Valaskjalf, a hall roofed with silver, where he could sit in his special seat and view all the worlds at once. He had another hall called Valhalla, the hall of the slain, where he offered hospitality to all those who fell in battle. Each night they feasted on pork that never gave out, and on mead which flowed instead of milk from the udders of the goat Heidrun, one of the creatures that fed upon Yggdrasill. Odin's guests spent the day in fighting, and all who fell in the combat were raised again in the evening to feast with the rest. Horns of mead were carried to them by the Valkyries, the maids of Odin, who had also to go down to the battlefields of earth and decide the course of war, summoning fallen warriors to Valhalla. Somewhere in Asgard there was a building with a roof of gold, called Gimli, to which it was said that righteous men went after death. There were other realms beyond Asgard, like Alfheim, where the fair elves lived, and as many as three heavens, stretching one beyond the other. 2.4.5 The Gods As to the gods who dwelt in Asgard, Snorri twice gives their number as twelve, excluding Odin himself. Odin was the father and head of the Aesir; he was called All-Father, but had many other names, among them One-Eyed, God of the Hanged, God of Cargoes, and Father of Battle. He journeyed far and wide over the earth, and had two ravens to bring him tidings from afar. His eldest son was Thor, whose mother was Earth. Thor was immensely strong, and drove in a chariot drawn by goats. He possessed three great treasures: the hammer Mjollnir, which could slay giants and shatter rocks; a belt of power which doubled his strength; and iron gloves with which to grasp the terrible hammer. Another son of Odin was Balder, said to be the fairest of all and most deserving of praise; he was white of skin and bright-haired, and was both wise and merciful. The gods Njord and Freyr were also dwellers in Asgard, but were not of the race of the Aesir. Njord came of the Vanir, and was sent to Asgard as a hostage when the two races were at war, and Freyr was his son. Njord controlled the winds and the sea, helped in fishing and seafaring, and brought men wealth, while Freyr gave sunshine and rain and the gifts of peace and plenty. Freyr possessed the ship Skithblathnir, large enough to hold all the gods, but small enough when folded to lie in a pouch, and also a wonderful boar with golden bristles. Another god was Tyr, who could give victory in battle, and it was he who bound the monster Fenrir and was left as a result with only one hand. There was also Bragi, who was skilled in the use of words and in making poetry. We hear, too, of Heimdall, who was called the white god, and was said to be the son of nine maidens. His dwelling was beside the rainbow bridge, for he acted as the gods' warden, guarding heaven from the frost-giants. He could see for an immense distance, while his ears were sharp enough to catch the sound of grass growing on earth, and wool on sheep. He owned the Gjallarhorn, whose ringing blast could be heard through all the worlds. There was also among the gods Loki, the son of a giant, who was handsome to look upon but given to evil ways. He was a cunning schemer, who both helped and hindered the gods, and he gave birth to the wolf Fenrir, to the World Serpent, and to Hel, the ruler of the land of death. These were the chief of gods, and beside them were others of whom we know little: Ull, a famous archer and skier, Forseti, the son of Balder and a good law-giver, Hoder, a blind god, and Hoenir, who was sometimes the companion of Odin and Loki in their wanderings. The sons of the great gods, like Vali, Vidar, and Magni, had special parts to play, for they were to inherit the world of Asgard when the older generation had perished. 2.4.6 The Goddesses There were also certain mighty goddesses. Frigg was the wife of Odin, and like him knew the future of gods and men. Freyja was Freyr's twin sister, and the most renowned of all the goddesses; she helped in affairs of love and had some power over the dead. She drove in a chariot drawn by cats. Freyja was said to have husband called Od, who left her to weep tears of red gold at his disappearance. Skadi, the wife of Njord, came from the mountains to marry the sea god. The marriage was not a success, because neither was willing to live away from home, and in the end Skadi went back to the hills, where she went on skis and hunted with the bow. Bragi's wife was Idun, who had one important part to play: she guarded the apples of immortality, on which the gods feasted in order to keep their perpetual youth. Other goddesses are little more than names. Thor's wife, Skif, had wonderful golden hair. Balder's wife was Nanna, and Loki's Sigyn, while Gna and Fulla are mentioned as servants of Frigg. There is also Gefion, to whom unmarried girls went after death. ... do you want to know more? The Luleĺ University has a web-site with more information at <>. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.4.7 Trolls and other beings Except for the Gods, who haven't belonged to the Nordic reallity for centuries, there are some other important beings: _________________________________________________________________ brownie Sw: tomte Fi: tonttu Sw: gĺrdbo Da: nisse Tomten is a shy, solitary and longlived human-like being, very bound to the ground of his. Tomten regards the humans as temporary lodgers in his domain. Tomtar are not known to reside in urban settings, but a few less reliable reports say that Tomtar might dwell in the Woods as well. Tomten is known to form families, but very little is known about the female tomte, Tomtemor. Tomte-children do not approach humans. Although he is more keen on the animals than on the humans, his guardiance can, if he is friendly disposed, be very valuable for the humans too. In case of fire or other dangers he can take help by the humans by alarming or wakening up the master of the house. A few less reliable reports say that Tomtar might dwell in the Woods as well. To show the tomte appropriate respect is very important. Otherwise he would get averse and cause misfortune; and the humans could be forced to move on. Misdeeds from children or negligent employees the tomte might punish directly. The Nordic version of Sancta Claus is dressed as a Tomte of human size. For drawings of tomtar and trolls, you could for instance examine the drawings by Hasse Bredenberg at <>. _________________________________________________________________ vättar Vättar are smallish guardians, maybe distantly related to the tomte. landvättar Families living under stones, in the ground, guarding a wood, an island or certain places. They dislike foreigners but are in principle friendly. Sw: gĺrdsvättar Fi: maahinen Families living under dwelling-houses or maybe beneath the stable. Vättar like cleanliness, order and warmth. They are said to move from a house if abandoned by the people and thereby made cold, but they might also get angered if rainwater or sink-water leak in to their dwelling. When provoked they might cause illness, particularly among the children. _________________________________________________________________ dwarfs Sw: dvärgar Fi: kääpiö Dwarfs are social human-like male beings of asexual generation, living in mountains and mines. They are very fond of metals and beautiful stones, and can get hostile when disturbed or robbed. It's dubious if they are seen in recent years. _________________________________________________________________ gnomes Gnomes are smallish men who mostly dwells on the European continent and only rarely visit our northern latitudes. The gnome travels alone through the earth as fishes swim through water. He guards the treasures hidden in the earth and mountains. _________________________________________________________________ rulers It's unclear whether Huldra, Vittra and Näcken are to group together or not, but they seem all somehow to support the Nature and its animals against the dangerous humans. No: huldra Sw: skogsrĺ Fi: metsänhaltija Huldror and skogsrĺn (wood nymphs) are solitary female beings of extreme beauty, but without a spine (being "empty" in the back). Skogsrĺ do mostly approach hunters, probably to defend the animals or the wood from the sufferings caused by human hands. The hunter falls in love and forgets his duties toward wife and family. He can also get allured astray or into a fog and die in the wood he thought he knew so well. vittra Vittror are female invisible beings, probably solitary. Maybe smallish. Dwelling in Norrland, in the high woods and on the fjeld. Often with dwellings under earth, but also in abandoned human chalets. Vittror are experts in milking, getting fatter and more abundant milk both from own (invisible) cattle and from the humans' cows and goats. Vittror can be heard sometimes when they milk or when they call for their cattle. And the bell of their leading cow might be heard too. The vittror do however not normally seek human company. It is unclear whether they rule over the fjeld and its woods like the skogsrĺ rules over the grand woods. But it is probable. Sw: Näcken Fi: Näkki Sw: Strömkarlen Sw: Bäckakarlen Näcken is a very attractive man-like fiddle player or singer. Appearing at rivers and in waterfalls. He is fond of women, who sometimes are found drowned at places where he appears. Näcken is said to dislike clothes. _________________________________________________________________ follower fylgja In old times powerful men were often accompanied by an invisible animal, fitting to their personality, as for instance a bear or a bull. The fylgja followed the person throughout life, and they died together. Occasionally the fylgja might be seen by others, but by the owner only at the end of his life. family-fylgja Some families also had a family-fylgja: a female being who followed the head of the family, and when he died turned to the heir. She could assist in battles, and in general cause problems for enemies. People with a powerful family-fylgja had much luck, and were therefore often elected as leaders for a village, a ship or a province. _________________________________________________________________ elfs Elfs are little known beings who originally were closely related to the goods. Signs suggest that they in later times have interbred with the hidden people of the vittror. alver Alver are human-like beings of both sexes. They often get very old and wise but they never look really old. They live their life with minimal contacts with humans, why we know very little about alver of today. Sometimes they change infants with humans, with the sad consequence that the human family gets a very gifted child which however has less of solidarity with its relatives than one could expect. In old times people used to sacrifice to the alver. Nowadays this custom is forgotten, but we guess that such rites could improve the harvest, the fertility of the cattle or the health of the family. Sw: älvor Fi: keiju fairies Fairies are beautiful female beings, usually invisible but sometimes with visible veils. They are fond of pleasures and beauty, and also very enjoyable to meet. Sometimes they dance, sometimes they sing or giggle. Often shy for humans. They can be seen or heard at some distance, but use to disappear, or become invisible, when humans approach. They dislike to be disturbed, but might fall in love with beautiful men, and can then be very persistent. Fairies are rather young - or at least do they behave like light-hearted teenage girls. Open meadows, shallow tarns and sheltered water mirrors can sometimes attract great parties of fairies. _________________________________________________________________ norns Norns are female beings who at birth determine the fate of the newborn. The best known has the name Verđandi. valkyrior valkyrias Valkyrias are probably a kind of norns who is responsible for the collection of the warriors whos time it is to die. One is known under the name Skuld (of the same root as in "shall"). dis A dis is a nowadays almost forgotten female being, related to norns and valkyrias, with the power to protect against ones enemies. In old times death in late winter was explained by insufficient sacrifice to the dises. These sacrifices took place at midwinter time or at fall. _________________________________________________________________ troll Fi: peikko No: troll Sw: troll Da: troll Trolls are human-like beings living in families or clans in for instance woods, mountains and hillocks. Some trolls live in pre-Christian graves after great kings and chieftains. They are very interested in jewelry in general and gold, silver and beautiful stones in particular. Trolls usually get very old, but not even as young they are particularly beautiful. Trolls are fertile, but they fancy young beautiful women and infants seemingly hoping for offspring less ugly than they are themselves. Human women, and rarely young handsome men, have now and then been captured. Except for sexual services the humans have had hard labor as the foreigners they are, and their life at the trolls is said to be full of sufferings. Trolls don't seem to understand that humans are not as strong and endurant as they are themselves. When trolls rob infants from their mother they usually leave an own infant, a changeling, in exchange. the changeling has however a hard time to follow human morals, and is not rarely quite stupid. For views of trolls you could for instance examine the drawings at <>. _________________________________________________________________ giants risar Sw: jättar Fi: jättiläinen Giants dwell in caves, mountains and deep woods. Often in harsh landscape were humans can not survive for longer times. Giants are said to be insensitive for ice and snow. Some people (Mots 1984) believe the giants and the trolls to have been the Gods of the pre-Germanic population. _________________________________________________________________ ghosts Sw: gengĺngare Fi: haamu Sw: vĺlnad Fi: aave (Fi: kummitus) Sw: spöke ghosts Deceased persons who live on after death have usually committed an evil deed in their lifetime. They cause illness, insanity and death. In medieval times the law punished production of ghosts (i.e. people who disturbed the dead). mara The mara is a female being who likes riding horses in their stable, and humans in their house, causing unrest, anguish, fear, bad dreams and feeling of suffocating. The mara is maybe the ghost of an unfortunate woman who died as a unsatisfied virgin. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.5 Introduction to the History of Norden ...etcetera, etcetera... Once upon a time, a very long time ago, as the ice-cap already for long had continued its slow and irregular retraction up to the North, Europe was inhabited by mammoths, bears, bisons, reindeers and woolly rhinos. ...and some hunting families of humans. The first recognizable event was when a culture in southwestern Europe seems to have concentrated very much on the reindeers. In the cave paintings in France and Spain from over 15'000 years ago we can see the people knew how to use bows and arrows. After year 9'000 B.C. the climate of Europe changed, and the reindeers came to remain only in the farthest North, along the ice-cap which still covered what today is Finland, Norway and the most of Sweden in-between. Also Scotland had for long time a glacier remnant of the ice-cap. The Creator hadn't yet constructed the Danish straits or the English Channel, and hence there was land connection from Scotland and the Scandinavian ice-border in Västergötland all the way to the Ural mountains and beyond. Most of Europe passed on to the Middle Stone Age (marked for instance by the invention of saws); in the fertile crescent along River Tigris, and along the Palestinian coast, crops began to be planted and sown. As we all know, the Agrarian Revolution in the fertile crescent came in due time to lead forward to * domestication of goats, sheep, pigs & cattle * knowledge to polish the stone tools * knowledge to produce fired pottery ...and later: * usage of slash-and-burn (or wood burning) technique And this latter technique came to be spread from the Black Sea along River Danube, through Central Europe almost to the coast of present-day Holland, Germany & Poland. The people utilizing the wood burning technique could populate the land much more densely than their hunting and gathering neighbors, thus it is commonly believed that the migration of the slash-and-burn knowledge represents a real migration and propagation of a wood-burning people. These migrants are commonly acknowledged as Indo-Europeans. At the border of their expanding culture some of the neolithic novelties got adopted: hence, pottery and polished stone tools were used by the pre-neolithic cultures along the North Sea and along the southernmost Baltic shores, as among the Ertebřlle folk of Denmark. That's how our forefathers learned to polish stone tools and to fire pottery approximately 4,500 B.C. At this time the coast- and lake-region of Finland was inhabited by nomadic people using Russian flint-stone, pottery and polished stone tools. Two thousand years later the Indo-European culture had made further progress, approximately to the River Vistula in North-East and in Scandinavia to the River Dalälven and up along most of the Norwegian coast. Meanwhile, high cultures with towns and irrigation had emerged in Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Indus valley. Then, around year 2,000 B.C. the know-how of copper-working (which for thousands of years only slowly had expanded from Turkey and the fertile crescent) now in a high speed became known in all of the world inhabited by Indo-Europeans. And Indo-European cultures seem to have expanded from River Vistula all the way up to Gulf of Finland and River Volga. Grain and cattle became a complement to hunting for people living along the waters. (This was, by the way, the time of the Palace Culture of Crete.) For the following years, 2,000 B.C. - 200 B.C., the map of cultures in Northern Europe looks almost static: * In the North there are proto-Sámis hunting and moving all the way from the Ural mountains to the Norwegian coast. * From Gulf of Finland to River Volga there are proto-Finns, * and south of them Indo-European Balts and Slavs. * Denmark, Pomerania and the south-western Scandinavian peninsula were inhabited by proto-Germanic people. * In the South the domain of the Celts was south of River Elbe, stretching to the Pyrenées, to the Mediterranean and over the Alps and the Carpats. (Despite important ideas continue to spread in the same well known South-East to North-West direction.) Bronze working was learned by the Slavs, the Balts, the Germanics, the Estonian Finns and the Sámis around year 1,500 B.C. Then around year 1,000 B.C. the new technique of iron-working had begun to expand out of its original area in Turkey. A process mirrored in the tales from ancient Greece and in the Old Testament of the Bible. And the Aryans conquered the Indus valley. It came, however, to last until year 500 B.C. till this knowledge reached beyond the Celts' northern border. The times were turbulent east of the Mediterranean. In the 9th century B.C. the Assyrians flourished with trade and genocide. Around year 600 B.C. Egypt falls for Assyria, then Assyria falls for Persia constituting a realm from Indus to Italy, where they were stooped by Etruscs and Cartagians. Monotheism is advocated by Zaratustra in Persia, and by the Prophet Jesaia (the second), during the 6th century B.C. During the 4th century Alexander the Great conquers Persia, and then, after his death, his realm is split in several large parts, whereafter Rome starts to expand. Then the Germanic culture began a slow expansion in southern direction: At year 100 B.C. the woods of Central Europe were home to both several Germanic tribes as well as to Celtic tribes, but in the North the Germanics dominated from Trondheim and Ĺland to the plains between River Rhine and River Neiße. The Roman Empire expanded through France; the Celtic area diminished and disappeared, and Germanic peoples became a major hassle for the Roman Army. The solution was in the long run that Germanic men came to take over the administration of the Empire and its armies at the same time as the Germanics were Romanized in culture, beliefs and language. As the Celts' dominance over Western Europe dissolved, the influences from the Mediterranean region again reached the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia. Trade with the Roman Empire increased, and might have contributed to the peculiar phase of the European history called the Migration Period when Germanic tribes and Asian tribes came to move around on the European continent. But before that the Slavs had started to expand. First in the East, along the River Dnieper, at the expense of the Balts, and then to the River Don and to upper River Volga. Around the turn of millennium, good iron was produced at the Oslo-fjord in southern Norway; at the same time, some important Germanic tribes inhabited the coasts of North Sea and the Baltic Sea, and the shores of the rivers: * Gepids around River Vistula * Goth around River Oder * Burgundians further south between the rivers Oder & Vistula * Marcomanni further south, around the upper River Elbe * Frisians at the North Sea coast between the rivers Elbe and Rhine Then, around year A.D. 200, the Goths and the Gepids moved down from the coast, through (?) the Burgundian area, toward River Danube. The Goths expanded over River Volga to River Don. Concurrently the Norsemen increased in number also in the very Scandinavia, expanding along the water routes between Norway and Jutland. Jutland was the richest territory as that was the key position from where all Scandinavian and Baltic trade to and from Rome and the Rhine valley could be controlled. The people on Gotland, the Guthes (Gutar), dominated the Baltic sea and its trade. [ We are not(!) taking any stand in the discussion whether Jutes, Guthes and Goths are etymologically equivalents. In any case: these people came to inhabit different areas and to constitute different peoples. ] The Goths were split in a lesser part, the Visigoths, who later came to create a kingdom on the Iberian peninsula, and the Ostrogoths who for a long time came to dominate all of the land between River Don and River Oder. Beside the Goths and the Norsemen there existed more than a dozen of distinguishable Germanic tribes: * Jutes and Angles on Jutland * Frisians, Franks, Burgundians and Allemans on the eastern side of River Rhine * Saxons, Thuringians, Lombards and Marcomanni on both sides of River Elbe * Vandals, Rugians, Gepids and Visigoths north of River Danube During early 4th century the Goths were Christianized, and from A.D. 325 the Bible is translated to Gothic. The Goths were however Arian Christians, and not Catholics as the Franks would become. Then the Huns came from the East, defeating almost any enemy. In the 370s the Ostrogoths and soon also the Visigoths started a great move. The Visigoths went through Greece, along the Adriatic Coast to Naples and Rome and further to Spain where they defeated the Vandals (who had arrived five years before). The Vandals moved on to what today is Libya. As the Ostrogoths and the Huns had moved on, it turned out that the Slavs popped up as the successors after the abdicated Ostrogothian lords. While the Baltic languages and culture almost disappeared, the Slavic area now greatly increased. After the Huns are defeated, Slavic tribes are identified along the southern Baltic shore, in all of the area east of River Elbe and (beside Magyars) in the area east of the Alps. Examples of these nowadays almost forgotten names are: Finnic tribes: * Karelians at lake Ladoga and further north * Votes at river Narva * Estonians in present day Estonia * Livonians at Gulf of Riga Baltic tribes: * Curonians (as in Curland/Kurland) at Gulf of Riga * Lithuanians at the rivers Neman & Dvina * Notangians at river Pregola * Prussians at, and east of, River Vistula (had migrated from the Neman/Dvina area circa 200 A.D.) * (other Baltic tribes there around had names as Jotwings/Jatvingians, Lettigallians, Notangians, Samen, Schalauer, Schamaiten, Selens & Semigallians) Slavic tribes: * Novgorods in North-East, at Lake Ilmen. * Pomeranians between the Rivers Oder & Vistula * Poles around River Warta (between Vistula & Oder) (actually they were sooner half a dozen of tribes, united around year 1.000 A.D. with names as Polanes, Vislanes, Slenzanes, Opolinis and others) * Wends/Sorbs around the rivers Neiße & Saale (between upper Oder & Elbe) * Abodritic/Obodritic tribes at the Baltic coast (between lower Oder & Elbe) * Czech tribes south of the Sudeten mountains * Daleminci at River Elbe in present day Saxony. During the 6th century the Gutar from Gotland island established colonies at the eastern shore of the Baltic sea, for instance at the estuary of River Dvina. Later, in the 9th century, Curland/Courland was conquered by Swedish Vikings. In western Europe the Franks conquered all the land from River Rhine to the Pyrenées; the Angles and a lot of Jutes and Saxons conquered England; and the Langobards came to conquer the Ostrogothian realm in today's Yugoslavia and Italy. In eastern Scandinavia, the Uppland region north of Lake Mälaren (Roslagen - the Rus people) increased its dominance. ...a dominance which has been held ever since. Gutar, Götar, Finns and Sámis constitute contemporary cultures. In southern Scandinavia the Danes dominated. Saxo Grammaticus tells, if we ought to confide in his tales, that Saxonians and Slavs from time to time paid tributes to Danish kings. According to Saxo also Scania, Gotland, Värmland, Jämtland and Hälsingland in present-day Sweden were lands of the Danes, although usually not under a common king. Then, during the 8th century Muslims conquered the Germanic realms on Africa's northern coast and on the Iberian peninsula. Left was the region of Franks, which after a split in the 9th century came to constitute the states of France and Germany. At this time trade through Russia to the muslim Persia became important. The Russian waterways are dominated by Svear and Gutar (Svenonians and Guths) called Varyagi or Varangians by the Slavs, and according to written sources present at the Sea of Azov in 739 A.D. The castles in Russia evolve to separate kingdoms and get Christianized. With Christianity (if not before) Germanic lords began to conquer many lands inhabited by Slavs, Balts and Estonians/Finns claiming supremacy - but as constituting a minute minority often soon assimilated. ...but with the arrival of Christian religion, the prehistoric era ends, and so does this tale. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.5.1 Norden in prehistoric times Ice has covered almost all of Norden most of the last 500,000 years. Exceptionally there have been four inter glacial periods, each extending 10,000-15,000 years. The latest period of ice-withdrawal started some 13,000 years ago. (And hence we can expect most of Norden to again become covered with ice within some 2,000 years.) The pre-history of Norden literally starts when the ice withdrew. Very little has been found from earlier interglacial periods. (Actually a piece of south eastern Jutland never got covered by the ice during the last ice-time, and there traces of human living have been found and dated to an approximate age of a hundred thousand years - but that was The Exception until a recent finding of a cave in Finland used as a human dwelling some 100,000 years ago.) Iceland seems not to have been populated before Viking time - but mind you! The first colonizer then arrived from Ireland and not from Scandinavia. 13,000 years ago hunting and fishing people left traces along rivers and lakes in Denmark and Scania. And from around 8,000 B.C. hunters have dwelled also in western and northern Scandinavia; and in Finland which started to pop up through the sea. Up to this time there had been a continuous land connection from Britain to Scania, but now (5,500 B.C.) Norden develops into a huge archipelago. Finland emerged as the archipelago on the coast of northern Russia and keeps culturally connected with Russia. Like-wisely Denmark and the southern Scandinavian peninsula keeps connected with western and central Europe. Along the coast of Norway hunters persist more or less isolated. Around 5,000 B.C. pottery came into use, indicating new methods to store food (Ertebřlle culture); and marks of wheat in the pottery suggest the beginning of agriculture, however established archaeology defines the Ertebřlle culture as a hunter/gatherer culture which came to persist for centuries beside the agricultural villages of the Pit-pottery (trattbägar) culture. Agriculture is believed to have reached Denmark and the southern Scandinavian peninsula approximately 4,200 B.C. with wood-burning technique, wheat, barley, sheep, goats, pigs and cows. [ This, and many other datings, is disputed. A recent Danish scholarly work says 4,000 B.C. while a recent Swedish work says agriculture was introduced in southernmost Scandinavia around 3,000 B.C. ] The megalithe graves are the most visible trace of our prehistoric ancestors, erected 3,700-2,300 B.C. in Denmark and on the southern Scandinavian peninsula. During this period of over a thousand years the agricultural megalithe societies seem to have co-existed with coastal hunters and fishers; obvious at least in Denmark, Scania, along the Swedish west coast, and at lake Mälaren west of Stockholm. These hunters/fishers stood in contact with Gotland and Eastern Europe, agriculture was not entirely unknown to them and they had domesticated swine. In other words: It is important not to take these classifications and datings too literally. [ A large recent Swedish work dates the megalithe graves to 2,500-1,500 B.C. ] Agriculture was introduced along the fjords of southern Norway about year 2,500 B.C. At the same time a new mode for burying was introduced in southern Scandinavia and southern Finland. Unburned corpses in sleeping position, always followed by the battle-axe, and without stones or similar signs on the ground above. The battle-axe culture followed rivers and lakes, where before the Ertebřlle and the Pit-pottery people had dwelled. We do not take a position in the dispute whether a change of pottery type or burying technique indicate a migration of people or only of ideas. The battle-axes of stone were initially made after the model of bronze axes, very true imitation indeed including the seam of the mould in which the bronze axe was cast. The agricultural districts preserved their megalithe culture for some time, and then it seems as the cultures merged. It is believed that this change in the archaeological findings more likely represents a true immigration of people instead of a diffusion of ideas and beliefs. If so, it also seems plausible that horses and the wheel were introduced by these battle-axe people. Around year 2,000 B.C. trade increased. Copper and bronze items followed dead chieftains into their graves. With increasing trade it didn't last long until bronze (the alloy of copper and tin) was produced in Denmark and on the Scandinavian peninsula. The metals themselves must however be imported. In exchange for the imported copper and tin export of amber and furs and maybe slaves must be assumed. The Bronze age is dated to the years 1,800-500 B.C. in Denmark, and 1,500-500 B.C. in Sweden and Finland. Bronze age did barely reach Norway or the central parts of Scandinavia and Finland, where the life seems to have continued as before. 2.5.2 Iron Age Around year 100 B.C. Lombards are believed to have migrated from Scania to Jutland and then further to the area of lower River Elbe, from where they attacked Roman Provinces for the following hundreds of years, ...until it was time for the great re-settlement of the Migration Period. The Lombards finally came to find a warmer sun in Lombardy in Italy. Western Scandinavia 3rd to 5th century Around the turn of millennium, good iron was produced at the Oslo-fjord in southern Norway. During the 3rd century A.D. the Iron Age Culture begins to spread from the Oslo fjord region, expanding along the water routes between Norway and Jutland. (Some scholars propose that a tribe with good knowledge of Iron-making thus gained military advantages and expanded to the south from the Oslo-fjord area. Basing their theories on place names, some even propose that these were the Danes, and that the Danes finally reached to present-day Svealand in their expansion along the Baltic Sea. In late 5th century the Lake Mälaren region was reported to be subordinate to Danish kings.) In any case: at the 5th century it seems as the area from Southern Norway to Jutland is dominated by related tribes, the "Danes" - the flatlanders. Eastern Scandinavia 5th to 8th century In late 5th century the Lake Mälaren region was reported to be subordinate to Danish kings, but then Svenonians (Svear) emerge as dominating tribe north of Lake Mälaren. Guths (Gutar on Gotland), Goths (Götar west and south of Lake Mälaren), Finns (in the East) and Sámis (in the North) constitute contemporary cultures. The people on Gotland, the Guthes (Gutar), dominated the Baltic sea and its trade. The agriculture was improved, and the size of farms became more diverse. On Gotland the arable fields were enclosed by stone walls, and almost all the common lands were split too. Western Scandinavia 6th to 11th century Danes inhabit western & southern Scandinavia including Jutland. They trade with West-Rome and Germans via the Rhine estuary. Jutland was the richest territory as that was the key position from where all Scandinavian and Baltic trade to and from Rome and the Rhine valley could be controlled. Danes (including people from present-day Norway and Scania) have a stronghold in England and Ireland which is lost to the romanized Normands in 1066. Eastern Scandinavia 8th to 11th century Svear and Gutar dominate trade with East-Rome and the islamic Persia along water-ways in Russia. The castles along the trade routes evolve to separate kingdoms and get Christianized. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.5.3 Where did the Vikings go? There came to develop clearcut borders between the zones of interest for Norwegian, Danish and Svea Vikings. Below the main routes for the Viking trades are given with the modern names in some cases supplemented with the old Norse names. The Danes dominated * England between York and London (Danelagen), * Normandie, * Holland * and the southern coast of the Baltic sea between Jutland and Gdansk with Stettin/Szczecin (Jomsborg) as the main port to the continent. * trade contacts with the Mediterian area - both indirect over the continent and direct through the Gibraltar. The Norwegians travelled to * Iceland, * the Faroe Islands, * Ireland, * Scotland * and Wales. * Like also the Danes they kept trade contacts with the cities of the Mediterian Sea. The Svear went to what today is Russia (Gĺrdarike): * via the seas Ladoga and Onega to the river Volga and all the way over the Caspic Sea to the flourishing Islam Persia. * via Riga and the river Dvina/Düna to Smolensk. * via Petersburg and the rivers Neva and Volkhov to Novgorod (Holmgĺrd). * from Novgorod and Smolensk they followed the river Volga to Kiev (Könugĺrd) and further over the Black Sea to Istanbul (Micklagĺrd) in the Byzantian Empire where the first written source reports Varangians in the Emperor's guard year 837. 2.5.3b Place names in Old Norse The Vikings had Norse names on a lot of towns and markets, of which a few still might be heard. The following list is far from complete: Vendland Pommerania Jomsborg Stettin Haithabu Hedeby (near Slesvig) Saxland between Rhine & Elbe Dorestad Utrecht Bretland Britanic islands Valland Flanders Norva sund Strait of Gibraltar Sikelř Sicily Särkland Persia Miklagĺrd Istanbul Gĺrdarike between Volga & Black Sea Könugĺrd Kijev Holmgĺrd Novgorod 2.5.4 What about those horned Viking helmets? Surprising though it may sound, the Vikings have never worn even the tiniest little horns in their helmets. Viking helmets did sometimes have neat figures and all kinds of decorations, but not horns. There are some Danish bog-findings of ritual helmets that do have metal horns in them, but these date from the Bronze age -- some 2000 years before the Vikings. The idea has its roots in the art of the Romantic period -- first half of the 19th century -- when the artists started to introduce native myths and legends in painting and sculpture instead of Greco-Roman ones. But since archaeology as a science didn't really even exist yet, they had a very poor idea of what sort of equipment the heroes of the sagas had used. So they used their creative imagination. Later, despite the fact that we now know we now know better, the myth has been further popularized by Hollywood movies and comics such as Hagar the Horrible, and nowadays a "Viking" is almost by definition "someone who wears a pair of horns in his head". [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.5.5 Common Nordic History; Medieval times Western Scandinavia 1066-1319 Denmark and Norway are separate kingdoms. Christian faith is established. Denmark is heavily engaged along the southern and eastern shores af the Baltic Sea competing with Slavic Viking-like tribes and later with Germans. The Germans grow in strength and come through the Hanseatic League to dominate both the Baltic and the North Seas. Eastern Scandinavia 1164-1319 Christian faith is established. Trade through Russia is no longer possible. Agriculture increase in importance. Finland and Norrland is incorporated in the Swedish realm (the question of when Götaland was united with Svealand is complicated). The Hanseatic League compete successfully with the Guthnish and Swedish traders. The League establish Visby on Gotland as a major Hanseatic town. Western & Eastern Scandinavia 1319-1521/1536 The Hanseatic League dominates all of Norden. The modern feudalism has led to splitted realms both in Sweden (1310-19) and Denmark (1320-40) and is countered by centralistic tendencies by king Magnus Eriksson of Sweden, King Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark, and his daughter Queen Margrete of Norway. The high aristocracy does of course obstruct. The kingdoms are several times united in personal unions. Danish kings struggle with Swedish magnates over the relation to Germany. The Swedes (and Norwegians?) prioritize trade, the kings want to fight first and trade then. 2.5.6 Christian and pre-Christian laws The Christianization of Scandinavia came in particular to influence the law-system. The written recording of laws was probably introduced by arch-bishop Absalon in Lund, who at the university in Paris around year 1150 had studied not only theology and philosophy but also laws and political science. In the 12th and 13th century the papal administration showed a great interest in secular laws, and now we are grateful for this, since the archives in Rome have some of our earliest sources. The conflict between pope and emperor in Europe was mirrored also in Scandinavia. The church had three major demands: Investiture, tax exemption and internal jurisdiction (i.e. secular immunity) for priests. Year 1200 the Swedish king agreed on the latter two points, but as with the German emperor 100 years before the royal (noble) custom to appoint bishops (and priests) remained. 1258 it was agreed that priests were to be ordained by bishops. From year 1200 we also have the first source claiming royal right to make and change laws. King Knud VI in Denmark proclaimed issues of maintenance of internal peace, as manslaughter, to be within his authority according to the Church's laws and teachings. The Things argued however that the king's power was limited to suspending laws in case they are in direct violation of God's commandments. Marriage was a topic where Christian laws differed much from the older Germanic. Prior men had become independent of their fathers at puberty, but women were subordinated to their husband, their father or their brothers. With Christianity the bride's consent was demanded for marriage, prohibiting also the formerly customary marriage by capture, as well as concubines. Dowry and bride price (the latter paid at the betrothing) remained customary. Divorces, which prior had been an equal right of booth spouses, without demands on certain causes, were also prohibited. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.5.7 Modern Nordic history Western Scandinavia 1536-1645 After a civil war 1534-36 the Hanseatic Leaugue lost its influence in the Danish realm. Lutheran Reformation follows. Norway is formally incorporated. Until the Thirty Years' War Denmark keeps her position as the leading power of Norden. Eastern Scandinavia 1521-1560 Lutheran Reformation contributes to the creation of a National State in Sweden with a strong central administration and a king independent of the nobility and the pope. Eastern Scandinavia 1560-1660 Territorial gains in Germany, the Baltic lands and in Scandinavia. The state administration gets controlled by the nobility. The Thirty Years' War 1618-1648 The Thirty Years' War results in a radically weakened Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. After an unsuccessful mission in the early phase of the war Denmark keeps out of it, and does not gain any direct favors from Germany's weakness. Sweden have more luck in the war, and comes out of it as Europe's leading Lutheran Power. Western Scandinavia 1645-1814 Denmark (with Norway) lose several provinces to Sweden, and after having been literally threatened by eradication in 1658 and having lost its richest province, Scania, the High Nobility is deemed unfit for governing the realm and Royal Autocracy is enforced. Denmark balances between revanchism and careful foreign policy aimed at peace with the strengthened Sweden. After several unsuccessful attempts to regain at least Scania, and after Sweden again is weakened after 1709, Denmark (with Norway) experience a peacful century until the Napoleonic wars hit also Denmark, leeding to Norway 1814 being ceeded to Sweden (75% of the realm's territory, however only a minute proportion of its population and tax-incomes). Eastern Scandinavia 1660-1808 Successive losses of territories in south eastern Finland and outside of Fennoscandia. The nobility's position is step by step weakened. Royal Autocracy is enacted by the Estates in 1680. After the disastrous war with Russia 1700-1721 the government is taken over by the Estates, and then again in 1771-1809 succeeded by Royal Autocracy. Nortern Scandinavia 1809-1918 Sweden lose the eastern half of the realm to Russia. Revolution in Sweden: Governmental power is shared by king and Estates. Finland as a Grand Duchy ruled by the Emperor of Russia gets isolated from the rest of Norden. Rest-Sweden is in personal union with Norway 1814-1905, whereafter the union is peacefully abolished and Norway again a totally independent kingdom of its own. Southern Scandinavia 1814-1901 Social, educational and constitutional reforms in Denmark. The Royal Authocracy is abolished in 1848. In 1864 also Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg are lost to Prussia. 20th century * Norway gains independency from Sweden; Finland gains independency from Russia; and Iceland gains independency from Denmark. Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Ĺland islands get self rule. * Parliamentarism, democracy and great social reforms are introduced in all Nordic states. * Norden is spared from the First World War, however Finland experience a bitter and bloody Civil War between Reds and Whites parallel with the War in Russia between Reds and Whites after the Communist Revolution. * Denmark and Norway are occupied during World War II. Finland is involved in two wars with Russia (the second in co-operation with Germany) and then another war to chase German troops out of Northern Finland. * Norway and Denmark joins Nato. Denmark, Sweden and Finland joins the European Union. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] 2.5.8 Political history & cooperation The forming of what we today know as the Nordic countries is a rather complex historical process. This is also the reason why it's not a very tight unit. While the common cultural heritage and even political unions of the Nordic peoples go well beyond the Renaissance, a conscious supra-national identity is a relatively recent development. After the splitting up of the Kalmar Union in early 16th century, Sweden (with Finland) and Denmark (with Norway) remained arch-enemies for almost three hundred years, fighting each other for the dominance of Scandinavia. Political cooperation was for the most part out of the question. In the learned circles of the late 18th century, however, a movement known as Scandinavism started to spread with the growing realization of national identity on one hand and common cultural heritage on the other hand. At first this was limited to promoting cultural exchange, but in the 1830s a political Scandinavism was born among the students of Sweden and Denmark; it aimed to create a Nordic defense alliance and even to unite the countries as a single state. King Oskar I of Sweden, who was an enthusiastic Scandinavist, supported Denmark when the country was subjected to strong political pressure from Prussia in 1848-49, which increased the popularity of Scandinavism in Denmark. During the Crimean War of 1853-56 efforts were made to get Finns to embrace Scandinavism and Sweden planned to liberate Finland from the yoke of the Russian Empire so that it could rejoin the Scandinavian family, but at that time Finns were quite content with their autonomy and didn't show much enthusiasm for Scandinavism. Political Scandinavism collapsed by and large in 1864 when Denmark was attacked by Prussia and Austria. Although the reigning Swedish King Karl XV was an advocate of Scandinavism, the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament which had grown in power) had a more sceptical attitude, and decided not to send any troops to aid the Danes. In addition to this, the Norwegian independence movement started to cause tension between Norwegians and Swedes. Thus the dreams of a unified Scandinavia were abandoned, and Scandinavism came to be focused on cultural and economic cooperation, standardizing legislation and acting together in international conferences. This cooperation has continued up to this date, although the word "Scandinavism" itself is no longer used. So, how then do the Nordic countries cooperate today? The main Nordic cultural and political organs are the Norden-societies in each country (founded in Swe/No/Dk in 1919, in Iceland in 1922, Finland 1924, Faroes 1955, Ĺland 1970), their umbrella organization (founded in 1965), the Nordic Minister Council (1971), and most importantly the Nordic Council (1952/1956), through which free movement of labour, passport-free travel and common legislation have been introduced in the Nordic countries. A similar political profile has led all the Nordic countries to develop into welfare states with a high social security and a high standard of living. Behind the political cooperation lie the factors that have enabled it in the first place. These include common cultural background, linguistic relationship, shared history, religion and geography. With the exception of religion, none of them is fully shared by all five countries, but even so, there are more things that unite us than ones that separate us. In 1946 Scandinavian Airlines Systems, SAS, was founded in cooperation between the states of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I've heard the Scandinavian countries failed to agree on a union in the 1940s. That's correct. Actually three times. First in October 1939 the Nordic kings and presidents met to discuss the serious situation at the eve of the World War. Soviet's demand on Finnish territory was one of the main problems discussed, and the Finns must have hoped for guarantees from the other states for support against the Russian threats. But the result was the opposite. Each state declared its intention to follow a strict policy of neutrality, which was the same as telling the Soviet Union that none of the other Nordic countries would interfere in the Soviet-Finnish conflict. Then after the Winter War 1939-40 between the Soviet Union and Finland a regular union was discussed for Sweden and Finland - like the personal union 1814-1905 between Sweden and Norway. But the Soviet Union didn't like the idea. Finally after the second world war a defense alliance was planned between Norway, Denmark and Sweden. (Finland's participation was again vetoed by the Soviet Union.) But the Norwegians' bad impression of the 19th-century union with Sweden was the obstacle on which the idea fell. Instead Norway took up discussions with the USA about participation in the planned NATO, and soon also Denmark followed. Was that for the first time after the split of the Kalmar-union? Well, actually there was a Currency-union between Denmark, Norway and Sweden 1873-1914 with the purpose to make trading easier. And people who are careful with the notions would maybe object that the last trace of the Kalmar-union lasted until 1944 when Iceland declared its independence from Denmark. :-> But otherwise you are right. The personal union 1814-1905 between Norway and Sweden was not at all voluntary from the side of the Norwegians, and before that the idea of a Nordic union had been stone dead since the 16th century. How come the Kalmar-union was ever accepted? It wasn't. :->> It was the result of a long and complicated chain of coincidences: * The Hanseatic League had become a superior power in the Baltic sea region. Their strategy was always to support the second strongest part in every conflict, thereby contributing to the political instability. * The first years of the 14th century were particularly unstable. Norway's King Hĺkon Hĺlegg, who recently had gained superiority over Iceland, supported the Swedish Duke Erik in an alliance against Denmark and the Swedish King Birger. * To make a long history short: Sweden was split in three Duchies; King Birger imprisons the dukes when they visit him for a Christmas party; the dukes are left to starve to death; the king is chased out of the country; the Crown-Prince is executed; King Hĺkon of Norway dies; and his grandson, the three years old son of Duke Erik, is appointed King Magnus of Norway - and Sweden; his mother rules as regent until she starts a war against Denmark; then she gets disposed. * While the Danish kingdom temporarily was weakened King Magnus Eriksson ruled 1332-1355 over Finland and all of the Scandinavian peninsula in a loose union between Norway, Sweden, Scania and Gotland. For its time it was the greatest realm in Europe. [ Henrik Ernř writes: ] During the period of 1315 to 1331 the Kings' power in Denmark was steadily weakened by the powerful noble families, which successed in limiting the King's position significantly both politically and financially. The King compensated by borrowing money to raise his armies from both the Hansa, the Counts of Holstein, the Kings of Brandenburg, and anybody else. As surety for the loans various parts of the kingdom were pawned out to the moneylenders, who then often resold the rights of the pawned province to third parties. [ Johan Olofsson writes: ] The Scanian nobility (alternatively the Thing in Lund) had in the beginning of the 1330s chosen the young Magnus Eriksson to be king also for the Scanian provinces, as also Gotland had done, after his regents had promised to pay Count Johan of Holstein to whom Scania was pawned. At that time Magnus Eriksson was the under-age king of both Norway and Sweden. [ Jan Böhme replies: ] It should be stressed that this was a much more drastic step to take for the Scanians. The Gutnish quite regularly pledged allegiance to the Swedish King in the early Middle Ages, on the routine understanding that this would mean as little as possible on the island in practice. For the Scanians, it really implied a shift of allegiance. Which means that Valdemar Atterdag's later re-conquest of Scania only meant a restoration more or less to status quo ante, whereas his conquest of Gotland meant an important change of the "facts on the ground". * When King Magnus' younger son Hĺkon comes to age, he is appointed king of Norway despite Crown-Prince Erik being the rightful heir to the throne. The discontent Crown-Prince starts a rebellion and gets most of the realm, but soon he and all of his family die in an epidemic disease. After this the balance had definitely changed: Sweden was weakened and Denmark the strongest again. * King Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark conquers Scania and Gotland, King Magnus seeks support by the strong Hanseatic League but is forced to abdicate in favor of his son Hĺkon (king of Norway), who allies with the Danish king where-after the German Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg is appointed king of Sweden and imprisons the ex-King Erik until six years later he is rescued by his son King Hĺkon of Norway. * In 1368-70 Valdemar Atterdag had gained courage enough to challenge the Hanseatic League. Denmark tried to master the southwestern Baltic and end the Hansa's economic control there. But instead the League was united (the Cologne-federation) and decided to raise an armed force that then defeated the Danes decisively. The league then tried to dominate Denmark by means of a 15 year's contracted possession of castles and towns along Öresund. * After Valdemar Atterdag's death his five years old grandson Olav is elected King of Denmark - the alternative would have been the nephew of King Albrecht supported by the German emperor. But the emperor died. Olav's father was King Hĺkon of Norway, but the Danish realm is in the hands of his mother, Queen Margrete of Norway, the daughter of Valdemar Atterdag, who wasn't on speaking terms with her husband the king. * When King Hĺkon died his son Olav was still under age, only nine years old, and the queen ruled over both Norway and Denmark. The King Olav died however also (at the age of seventeen) and the son-son of the Swedish King Albrecht of Mecklenburg was closest to the throne. * The Danish nobility did however prefer the Norwegian queen for the German king and appointed her to regent with support of the Thing in Lund. Then the Norwegians elected her to regent, and finally the Swedish State Council and aristocracy chose to support her against King Albrecht in Sweden, who was beaten in a battle with Queen Margrete and together with his son Erik captured and imprisoned. (1395 he was rescued through Mecklenburg's war against the queen.) * Finally Bugislav, the nephew of Queen Margrete, is elected king (known as Erik of Pomerania) by the Norwegian state council with the queen as regent until he comes to age; then he is elected king in province after province of Denmark (1387) and so also by the Swedish state council (1389). Thereby the union was made legitimate, and in contrast to earlier occasions when one king ruled over two Scandinavian countries, this came to last for a long time. (Although the Swedes made a lot of problems all the time.) Is it true that Scandinavia was a united Norse Realm before Christianity? Well, ...yes and no! There existed short-lived kingdoms with considerable size also before the 14th century, but they all disintegrated when the king in question died - if not before. Maybe the army which was raised to defend Jutland against the Huns was the first. During the 11th century there are for instance King Canute the Great's realm including most of England, Norway, maybe Sweden and (of course) Denmark. But the first years of the millenium was rich in power-play: * Olof Skötkonung, King of Svealand, allies with his step-father Svend Fork-beard, King of Denmark, and the exiled Jarl Eirik from Norway. [ "Jarl" is the same word as "Earl". ] They defeat King Olav Tryggvason of Norway. Jarl Eirik gets a third of Norway as his own, and the part of Olof Skötkonung's as his vassal. This happened in year 1000 according to Snorre. * Then the viking chieftain, King Olav Haraldsson defeats and slays the son of Jarl Eirik, but unites with Eirik against King Olof of Svealand. Unpease pesters the life in Jämtland and Bohuslän. * According to Snorre (not too sure in other words) the leaders at the Thing in Uppsala compelled King Olof to peace-negotiations with King Olav. * King Canute the Great (of Denmark) conquered also Norway. King Olav escaped to his relative King Jaroslav in Novgorod, where he raised an army. They landed in Sweden where meanwhile the Svenonians (Svear) had lost their patience with the self-willed King Olof Skötkonung, who had taken the unprcedented step of conversion to Christianity. King Olof was expelled (and on his escape given refuge in Skara in Götaland, where his confessor and spiritual father proclaimed Sweden's first bishopric). * The new King of Sweden, Amund Jakob, supports king Olav Haraldsson, who however is killed in the battle of Stiklestad in Trřndelag. * When King Canute the Great dies in 1035 the Danish supremacy over Norway is exchanged in a Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance. It was settled that if one of the two realm's kings should die without heirs, then the other would succeed him. * King Hardeknud of Denmark dies without an heir in 1042, and Denmark and Norway is again united - now under King Magnus. * But soon a retired colonel from Constantinople, the uncle of King Magnus, returned to his native country and made demands on half of the kingdom. As King Magnus refused, the uncle, who came to be called Harald Hĺrdrĺde by the way, allied with Svend Estridsřn, a claimant to the Danish kingdom. King Magnus was defeated in the year 1047, and the union between Denmark and Norway was split. ____________________________________________________ That's rather messy, isn't it? Could you please make a table? - At your service! 1022-35 King Canute the Great united Denmark, Norway and parts of England. 1042-47 King Magnus of Norway inherits the Crown of Denmark. 1262-1536 Iceland is governed by Norway 1319-55 Personal union between Norway and Sweden 1332-60 Personal union between Sweden, Scania and Gotland 1362-64 Personal union between Norway and Sweden 1387-1536 Personal union between Denmark and Norway 1389-1523 Personal union between Denmark, Norway and Sweden 1536-1814 Norway is incorporatedą in the Danish realm 1536-1918 Iceland is incorporated in the Danish realm and 1918-1944 in personal union with Denmark 1536-- The Faroe islands are incorporated in the Danish realm 1814-1905 Personal union between Norway and Sweden ą/ There remains some dispute regarding if Norway regained sort of a status as a kingdom again, in personal union with Denmark, in 1660. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.6 The essence of Nordishness The Nordic states, cultures or languages are of course very different if judged by us Nordeners ourself. :->> But seen from the outside the cultural characteristics are not more different than we all well could have belonged to the same nation. Not quite seriously, I here use the unconventional term "Nordishness" for the characteristics of us - as if Norden had been one state or nation. 2.6.1 What is Janteloven? The word "Janteloven" occasionally pops up in s.c.n, often with no hint given as to what it's supposed to mean since apparently it's common knowledge in most Nordic countries. Not so with the rest of the world, however, or Finland for that matter, so a brief explanation warrants a place. It derives from the the novel "En flygtning krysser sitt spor" ("A refugee crosses his tracks") by the Norwegian/Danish author Aksel Sandemose. The book takes place in an imaginary Danish small town called Jante, based on Sandemose's hometown Nykřbing Mors. The book is about the ugly sides of Scandinavian smalltown mentality, and the term "Janteloven" meaning "the Jante Law" has come to mean the unspoken rules and jealousy of such communities in general. The form and style of the Ten Commandments in Norwegian are "straight," i.e. unencumbered by the "thous" and "thys" of the older English translations of the Bible. I've made the assumption that Sandemose deliberately chose 10 laws and that his style was intentionally reminiscent of the Ten Commandments. It's also interesting to note that the Ten Commandments (and the other laws of Leviticus) are often referred to as Moseloven (or the Mosaic Law) in Norwegian. Also, there are some messages that are implied in these laws that are not explicit.I've included those in brackets so as to convey the meaning better, although they should properly be construed as editorializing on my part. This translation of the Jante Laws was suggested by Leif Knutsen (except that I replaced "venture to think" with "to presume", as suggested by someone in the group): The Jante Law 1. Du skal ikke tro at du *er* noe. Thou shalt not presume that thou art anyone [important]. 2. Du skal ikke tro at du er like saa meget som *oss*. Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as us. 3. Du skal ikke tro at du er klokere en *oss*. Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than us. 4. Du skal ikke innbille deg du er bedre enn *oss*. Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than us. 5. Du skal ikke tro du vet mere enn *oss*. Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than us. 6. Du skal ikke tro du er mere enn *oss*. Thou shalt not presume that thou art more than us [in any way]. 7. Du skal ikke tro at *du* duger til noe. Thou shalt not presume that that thou art going to amount to anything. 8. Du skal ikke le av *oss*. Thou art not entitled to laugh at us. 9. Du skal ikke tro at noen bryr seg om *deg*. Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee. 10. Du skal ikke tro at du kan lćre *oss* noe. Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything. 2.6.2 A Nordic national character? Since nordishness can be depicted only in contrast to other cultural patterns, the following features have been collected among immigrants to Sweden, as representative for their impression of their new compatriots. The cultural anthropologist Ĺke Daun has written quite a few articles and books on this topic in the Swedish language. The following is an attempt to concentrate the most important of his points. Many point out how they never get invited to neighbors or colleagues. This is easy to interpret as a suppressed hostility, i.e. as xenophobia or discrimination. To a limited extent such interpretations might be justified, but it could also be explained by the social pattern among the Swedes. Also Nordeners can be good colleagues - year after year - without this making them meeting privately. We tend to draw a clear border between our private life on one side with a few close friends and a bunch of relatives, and on the other side social contacts with others. To one's home one receives siblings with families maybe an old schoolmate or some friend since the childhood, and maybe one or two "recent" friends with their families, for instance a former or actual neighbor or colleague. But it's typical how this circle is rather narrow and additionally stable over the years. A consequence is that it's rather hard for newcomers to a town or a village to break into such a narrow circle, particularly for aliens. This feature is enforced by the strong tendency among Swedes to achieve socio-cultural homogeneity. Another typical Nordic feature contributes to this tendency: the wish for conflict free encounters in the private life. Swedes are particularly prone to achieve consensus in attitudes and opinions, and avoid socializing with others than like-minded people. Confrontations are regarded as particularly unpleasant. Nordeners are not curious enough to balance for this fear for the different. We do also not believe ourselves to be interesting enough to wake the curiousness of others, and to compensate for this there must be food and beverages, and maybe particular activities, when meeting others. Another feature worth to note is shyness, which is particularly prevalent among Finns and Scandinavians. People feel inhibited around others one doesn't know well, and one is very observant on one's own behavior since it is regarded as very important to control which impression others get of oneself. Among less well known people, one gets extra careful since it is harder to anticipate their perceptions and reactions. Another reason to not visiting others and not inviting others is the high requirement one wish to comply to regarding food and cleanliness when foreigners visit one's home. To feel comfortable with foreigners at home, one needs a long time for emotional and practical preparations. A sign of the borderline between the private sphere and work is the Nordic resistance against small talk about private matters with strangers, which has been reported to be a great hinder in business contacts in foreign countries. The lack of passions strangers might perceive in Nordics is surely both reflecting a genuine trait and the fact that most strangers don't meet Nordics in a context the Nordics would regard as private and unrestrained (except for drunk appearances - see section 2.10!). Rational reasons have a strong precedence over for emotional reasons. Emotions are not at all disapproved in all contexts, but they are regarded as "pure" emotions of no further value than to signal one's general unhappiness with life or fate. Quietness is regarded as the commonly accepted norm, and noisy fellows are strongly disapproved. Vociferous stubbornness is deemed as very ill-mannered. As is interrupting and talking in the mouth of others. The Nordic ideal is to think twice before one speaks, and to utter only one's most firm beliefs, and only when there is a considered intention. What one says is remembered for ages, and if one says something stupid or "wrong" it will be proof of one's stupidness and general incompetence, ...and can be used against one in encounters ages afterward... To be kind and good-natured is important. One prefer to be quiet or agreeable instead of uttering an opposing opinion, unless one really aims at hurting. Leaving the professional ethnologist Ĺke Daun aside, we can note how the Norwegians and the Finns, who gained independence first in the 20:th century tend to be much more nationalistic than Danes or Swedes. Tor Slettnes points out how Norwegians are generally strongly affected by their own culture. Norwegian national romanticism has of course its roots in the independence movements from Denmark, Sweden, and German occupants, and is much more accepted and appreciated by Norwegians themselves, than by outsiders. Because nationalism often (in Germany, Sweden, USA etc) has been a political taboo, later to be picked up by anti-establishment semi-nazi groups, citizens of these places might find the Norwegian national pride hard to swallow. ...oh, and I almost forgot! Nordeners usually think we are very good at upbringing children, condemning the "cold" and unfriendly attitudes to children in for instance France or the UK. Spanking of children is not acceptable anymore, and actually unlawful in most countries. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.7 Sex, drugs and censorship Usenet being what it is, dominated by Americans, makes some issues more confusing than others. How come the Nordic societies are so liberal on pornography and promoting indecent lifestyles (also known as homosexuality) but so repressive against prostitution, smokers (of usual cigarettes as well as joints) and other drug users? Isn't it a contradiction that films get censored due to "excessive violence" in the countries which all over the world are notorious for their free sex and as the base for Nazi propaganda? What a strange mixture of liberalism and intolerant censure! 2.7.1 Sex in the Nordic cultures Section 2.7.1 is unwritten. Please write and ask in the newsgroup if there are any particular questions you would like answered! 2.7.2 Domestic partnership (Same-sex "marriages") In all Scandinavian countries (i.e. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and also Iceland, but not Finland or the Faroe Islands) same-sex marriages, officially called "Registered Partnerships", are recognized by the law - with more or less the same rights and duties as in bi-gender marriages. In Sweden two very well-known female performing artists, Eva Dahlgren and Efva Attling, married publicly the spring 1996 with much fanfare. Denmark, Norway, Greenland, Sweden and Iceland have (in that order) made the cohabition between people of the same sex possible to get officially registered, which in most non-religious respects makes the status of the relationship equal to that of a married couple. As late as June 27th 1996 the law took effect on Iceland. Finland has not yet joined the other Nordic states, but is rapidly and under unusual parliamentarian means catching up. Being last will probably also mean that they will end up with the most radical laws. The laws are very short - what they do is state that gay couples who register are entitled to all of the benefits (and responsibilities) of their country's respective marriage laws. They do this by simply referring the Registered Partnership Acts to the respective sections of the country's Marriage Act that applies. The ceremony is performed much like a civil wedding ceremony. The Church does not perform such ceremonies, but some priests have chosen to bless partners in connection with the ceremony. The registration of a partnership makes no big practical change compared to living together without it, however for instance rules regarding inheritance are affected. The meaning is most of all emotional, as an act making the relationship "officially" acknowledged. The laws requires at least one of the partners to be a citizen in the actual country. Until recent years homosexuals in all Nordic countries have been in a situation where their partners have not been recognized by the official society at all, for instance often have not been properly informed in case of accidents and hospitalizations, and with severe problems to keep the lease of a shared flat in case of a divorce or a death. During the 1970s this started to change, and gay couples became equal to unmarried couples without children at the same time as most social benefits became depending on cohabition instead of marriage. And 1989 Denmark was first out with a specific law regulating the rights and duties of gay couples who live in recognized partnerships, i.e. common law marriages. Due to the Swedish Registered Partnership Act women who have entered into partnerships have also been granted social benefits in connection with a birth equal to if the other woman had been the married father of the child. It is likely that this implementation will be normal in the future. Still the authorities in Finland treat cohabiting same sex couples as single persons and not like unmarried heterosexual couples (common law marriage) which leads to an increased financial burden. This has implications to taxation, health insurance, and so on and on... In none of the Nordic states does the law permit the adoption of children by gay or lesbian couples, nor does it give the right to artificial insemination. Insemination is in Sweden illegal outside of the public health care system and the requirements make it impossible for lesbians without an infertile male husband to get inseminated. In Denmark insemination for lesbians is not illegal, however not financed through the health-care insurances. There has been some discussion about these laws, involving both requests for more radical steps and urging of Conservatism. Many homosexuals would probably agree that the partnership laws are the best possible result of pragmatic compromises by gay-rights activists and the straight [heterosexual] politicians who supported the law. It's a typical example of Scandinavian step-by-step reforms. And it will be improved further. The Icelandic law is similar to those passed in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, but it also gives gay couples joint custody of the children of either partner. Both partners then become the childrens' guardians and should the natural parent die, the other partner - the childrens' step parent - automatically becomes their sole guardian. Nowhere have gay couples had such rights up to now. In addition to this the Alţingi (the Parliament of Iceland) is scheduled to change several provisions in the criminal law, making it a punishable offense to defame or persecute gays and lesbians in public. In addition, the law only permits gay and lesbian couples to confirm their partnership in a civil ceremony; this in light of the Church of Iceland's firm opposition to church marriages of gay and lesbian couples. The new law enjoys the support of all political parties represented in parliament and only one member voted against the bill. Top politicians have in some cases chosen to be quite open regarding their own experiences and feelings of homosexual nature, as for instance Andreas Carlgren, the vice chairman of the Center party in Sweden; and in other cases chosen to regard these matters as strictly personal which well might be acknowledged in an interview or two, but which are not allowed to become a part of their image, as for instance the Norwegian minister of Justice, Anne Holt, and the Danish minister of Health, Yvonne Herlov Andersen. In the Nordic countries it's customary to respect the individual's choice in these cases. 2.7.3 Pornography [ Lennart Regebro writes: ] Norway and Iceland don't allow pornography, but through the years the definition of what is pornography has got more liberal. Sweden has one of the world's best protections for Freedom of Speech, which made it hard to outlaw pornography. Thus, Sweden got its reputation of being the land of free sex, because in Sweden you could actually make porn magazines. Some time during the sixties, Denmark removed its laws prohibiting pornography, and became a mecca for Nordic porn. It still is in many senses. For example, the view on "unusual" sex seems much more relaxed in Denmark. Sado-Masochism seems pretty accepted, for example,while it in Sweden seems to be taboo. There is even a law against distrubuting "violence-sex", something that seems to be aimed against sado-masochistic pornography. Sweden (just like Denmark) doesn't allow distribution of child-pornography. Although you legally can own it, the police can take it, if it is evidence for child-misuse. Owning it is not an offense, although the law in Sweden is proposed to change on that point. [ someone else: ] Finland has its own major contribution to the porn industry in the famous (and newly deceased) artist Touko Laaksonen (alias: Tom of Finland), who from the 1940s and forward published a lot of often overt erotic drawings of Nordic males as forest workers, bikers, firemen and policemen with pretty faces, huge dicks, and a shameless amount of appetite for each other. 2.7.4 Censorship in the Nordic countries [ Gunnar Medin writes: ] Denmark is an easy case. There is no censorship at all. Not for adults anyway. A film can be prohibited for viewing in a movie theater by children below 12 or 16, but no censor decide what adult people can see. (But some kind of pictures are unlawful to show, i.e. child pornography.) This does not mean that charges cannot subsequently be brought against publishers of the material for breaking of laws like racist allegations, libel slander or perhaps copyright issues. But the main thing is that there is never any preemptive censorship. Another thing is what the audience like! American films seem sometimes to get distributed in two versions. One cut for Northern Europe with more sex and less violence, and one for US with less nakedness but more violence. US films with relatively explicit sex scenes, e.g. Basic Instinct, are often made in one version for Europe and one shorter ("censored") version for the USA. The only reason I have heard of for censoring films in Sweden in modern times is violence. [ someone else: ] In Sweden, the same laws apply to what you can and what you can not show on movies and video. The difference is, that movies are checked for violations before being shown, while videos are only checked if there is a complaint. This means that a movie distributor /theater can never be convicted for what they show in movies since the censoring system absolves them from responsibility. In contrast, video distributors can be convicted for selling and renting videos with prohibited content. The same rule also holds for printed matter in Sweden. Books which are libelous, infringes copyrights, prints military secrets and so on, can never be censored before publication. The problem with doing this for movie theaters is that it takes so long time to get a conviction, so that the movie would have stopped showing anyway. In effect, it would "remove" the censoring, unless you would get long jail sentence. That would in turn lead to the much worse "self-censoring" system that exists in the US. [ Otto-Ville Ronkainen: ] In Finland, all films are subject to a preview by the State Film Approval Office, which can approve the film for all audiences or for audiences above a certain age. The highest age limit is K-18. If a film can't be shown as K-18 as such, it must be cut or it can't be shown. Nowadays the standards on sex are more lenient than in the US. Movies that are R-rated in the US can be K-12 or K-10 here. For video films, the Finnish system requires the limit to be K-16 or less, so K-18 films have to be cut to be released on video. However, such restrictions don't exist on import for own use, so the real enthusiasts can get their films uncut from England or Denmark, for instance. [ Kari Yli-Kuha: ] Currently, the Finnish censorship is about to be abolished, since with the current information technology it's practically impossible to prevent people from seeing whatever they want. It's not so important what the adults see or do not see, but removing censorship, the main purpose of which has been to guard children from the most hard-core violence, emphasizes the role of parents. 2.7.5 Drugs in the Nordic countries This is a controversial theme, which maybe can be illustrated by the following quotes from the news group: [ Stein J. Rypern writes: ] At least Norwegian culture is pretty clear on this - drugs are out. Alcohol and nicotine are allowed, but with some restrictions: * advertising for either alcohol or cigarettes are prohibited * there are hefty "sin taxes" on both products, * there is a law against smoking in many public places * spirits, wine and beer in tax group 3 (with more than about 4.5% alcohol per volume unit) is only sold in the government monopoly shops (and licensed bars and restaurants, of course). Norway is culturally a part of the "vodka belt", where occasional drinking yourself into a stupor at parties is socially acceptable, but not really done all that much by people who are above the age of 20. There is a fairly strong taboo against drinking and driving. It still happens, of course - but most people have the sense to park the car and take a cab home or arrange for one person to stay sober and drive the others home when they have been drinking. What has all this got to do with drugs? Not a lot, I guess :-) Drugs just aren't socially acceptable. Might be part of the puritanical heritage of Norwegians; might be common sense - we know how to deal with drinking (we drink, get drunk, fall down, no problem :-), but not with using drugs. Several decades of good propaganda work by the health authorities have also firmly fixed the idea that "smoking marihuana leads to the use of heavier drugs" in our minds. It may or may not be true - I don't much care either way - I see no need for people to use drugs when we have the time-honored way of getting blasted - alcohol. :-) I guess people also see using drugs as something done by junkies and prostitutes and people who are down and out. There are no role models who advocate the use of drugs. I accept my neighbor's right to meddle in my decisions when what I do affect him. When I expect him to pay my medical bills (through taxes) if I need surgery or when I drive my car down the street where his kids go to school after drinking or using drugs. In those cases it is not just my personal choice, it is also my neighbors problem. Most Norwegians seem to be somewhat more inclined toward the common good than individual freedom. The "relaxed" attitudes of the Scandinavian countries are mostly an US myth, I suspect. Just because we don't have all your hang-ups about sex and don't pay lip service to "godliness" doesn't mean that anything goes over here :-) Coffee, loud music, fat food, skiing slopes too steep for you - all these things might cause some kind of damage to your health. It is neither desirable nor practical to try to ban everything that "is bad for you". I am willing to accept some risks. After all - life is dangerous - must be close to a 100% fatality rate, eh? ;-) Keeping drugs banned is practical politics as long as the number of drug (ab)users is fairly limited. Politics is doing what we believe is right, within the confines of what is possible in the real world. I don't think you can cure most drug addicts from their addiction. I would prefer to spend whatever resources we can afford to spend on preventing or actively hindering people from being recruited into drug addiction. Based on the principle "one stitch in time saves nine". Prevention tend to be less expensive both in terms of money and human suffering than trying to cure an existing condition. I don't know what is the cheapest alternative. I believe that it is that as few people as possible use drugs. I also believe that making drugs illegal, hard to get and as expensive as possible will make fewer people start doing drugs. I draw my line between smoking /drinking on one side and doing drugs on the other side. For practical reasons - it is a line I believe can be enforced. [ Mikko Hakala <> writes: ] The situation also varies from country to country. Denmark is most tolerable, and in contrast, Sweden's attitude towards drugs has become something close to paranoia, planning to criminalize even prostitution. I feel that since Palme's murder Sweden hasn't been the country it used to be. As if the nation had lost her faith in tomorrow. Norway and Finland are somewhere between. Probably more close to Sweden than Denmark. Most Scandinavians don't come personally in touch with drugs. They see drugs only in (American) movies. Therefore the Nordic sense of reality hasn't become part of their drug-policy. If one is caught in Finland with, say, with 2 grams of hash, there won't be any prosecution. BUT the considering, which takes one minute for a policeman in the streets of Helsinki, may take several days for a rural police chief in Kajaani. - Meanwhile the "criminal" stays in custody! [ From: Anders Nordseth <> ] In Copenhagen, Denmark, they also sell cannabis in the open, in the so-called Pusher Street in Christiania. There they have sale-stands where they sell hashish, and the police bothers only once in a while. I would agree that Norway and Finland are closer to Sweden than Denmark. For smuggling cannabis products in larger amounts you might in Norway risk 21 years in prison, which is the highest sentences one can get in Norway (the same as homicide). Recently, a person from Denmark was caught smuggling 30 kg of hashish from Denmark to Norway. He escaped from Norway and went back to Denmark. The Norwegian authorities wanted to seek extradition for him, but the Danish authorities didn't look at the crime as serious enough, so they didn't extradite him. He is a free man in Denmark, in Norway he would have been a "very dangerous criminal". Possessing smaller amounts of cannabis, is not that serious. In the bigger cities (like Oslo) you would usually get a fine, in smaller places in Norway you might risk some days in prison. The crimes involved with drugs are caused by drug addicts who need money to finance their use of drugs. If it wasn't prohibited, the price would not have been as high, and they wouldn't have to resort to theft, prostitution or robbery to finance their drug use. Use of alcohol leads to violent behavior more often than the use of drugs. A stoned person is quite harmless. I've been driving cab in Oslo for several years on weekend nights while studying. Drug addicts or stoned people have never caused me any problems, drunk people have very often caused me problems. It's a dilemma, what problems should we choose? My opinion is that it would be a more fair distribution of the problems if we legalize drugs. Today a lot of innocent people suffer for the criminal acts done by drug-addicts hunting for money. By legalizing drugs, more people will probably have personal problems, but less innocent people will have problems caused by drug-use. And remember, everyone has that choice to "Just say no". It might be a cynical view, but freedom has its costs. [ From: Nils Ek <> ] The serious health risks imposed by cannabis, cocaine, heroin, etc. have been well established (at least to the satisfaction of most educated people) by responsible medical groups. In Scandinavia, those who abuse their bodies with alcohol and/or drugs are entitled to publicly-funded health-care. So perhaps it's no wonder that the governments decide they'd rather not put up with the medical as well as social costs of de-criminalized intoxicant drugs. Of course these arguments and conclusions have been vehemently denied by the addicts (or counter-culture drug proponents, if you will). Rather than tolerance, the issue may be one of: whom do you believe? The Nordics probably have more respect for their medical community than elsewhere, e.g. compared to U.S. where it's perceived as "big-business". Meanwhile the counter-culture types typically believe they have tapped into some ancient secrets of the orient. However, I believe that for many people, this has to be a turn-off because of the use in oriental "natural" medicine of bears' gall-bladders, tiger penises, and rhino horns. Perhaps this is why pro-drug arguments of (American) counter-culture seem to have less of a foothold there. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.8 Nordic Socialism and welfare The Nordic societies can be characterized as countries with rather subtile class differences. To define which class people belong to has become harder in the last 50 years, when the democracy has led to compulsory education and social insurances for everyone. Equality has been the slogan best remembered from the French revolution, and strong labor unions have achieved many of their goals, with for instance manual workers often earning well as much as lower officials and teachers. 2.8.1 Wouldn't the Nordic economies gain from abolishing Socialism? Let's make a few things straight! The words "Socialism" - "Liberalism" - "Conservatism" are used in a very different way in the USA compared to the usage in the continental Europe and in Norden. In soc.culture.nordic we use these words as they are understood in Europe: Liberalism and Socialism are in Europe basically defined as ideas with a great deal of heritage from early Liberal and Socialistic writers. Liberalism could be said to revolve around freedom from the power of the mighty, and Socialism around freedom from the power of the rich. Democratic freedom is per definition a Liberal virtue. Some Social democrats might be classified as much of a Liberal, but most are definitely not. The program of the Social Democratic parties are not understood as Liberal, but when it comes to practical pragmatic politics and policies the outcome might be a mixture between the own program and other ideas. Conservatism is likewise defined as ideas succeeding the writings of Burke, Disraeli and other classical political writers. There are two major branches among the Conservatives: the Social-Conservatives and the Value-Conservatives. The Value-Conservatives? Oh, that's people who speak a lot of the importance of the church, the army, the family and maybe the crown (king/ government) and are very happy to spend all the tax money on those institutions instead of extravagances on children, disabled and unemployed. Socialism is the people's control over the means of production. High spending government is something different. This phenomenon comes in different wrappings: Feudal, Authoritarian Conservative, Fascist, Social Liberal, Social Democrat, Christian Democrat and so on. As an ideology, Socialism deals more with the political basis than with the implementation. Nobody can justify taxation as a goal, that politicians and civil servants are always right, that it is a goal to confiscate any kind of private property. There are some Socialist ideologies that want society to build upon omnipotence. All but tiny extremist groups have survived. Most were slaughtered in Eastern Europe. The Socialist ideology was more a visionary romantic one than a practical political theory. There is a little bit of the rhetoric left (for internal use) in the Social Democratic parties, so maybe one could call them Socialist. Then there are the proper Socialists on the left of the Social Democrats. Some of the Nordic still worship Karl Marx. 2.8.2 Don't the Nordic states have huge welfare expenditures? "Welfare" in this context has nothing to do with welfare as the word is understood in the USA. It stands for a word ("välfärd" as spelled in Swedish) approximately translated by the intention to control un-employment and poverty by governmental regulation and actions. This is not a particular phenomenon for Scandinavia, or for recent times, but have to greater or lesser extent been on the program for nearly all parties ruling in the industrialized Europe (i.e. for over a hundred years). Subsidies to industries have been popular among nearly all parties, for instance. The health care system, the tax financed school system (including student loans) and the mandatory participation in schemes for loss of income at retirement, disability, sickness or unemployment has got a solid support by something like 90% of the politicians and 95% of the Nordic voters. The differences regard adjustments, not the idea as such. 2.8.3 But you do pay terrible taxes, don't you? Also people who are Conservative, by Nordic standards, support the basic concept of sharing a public responsibility for education and health care. We can discuss the efficiency of the government in running these programs, but you're not going to convince many Nordeners that the solution to inefficiencies is to move the responsibility to the individual. Since the education of the youths is paid for through taxes instead of parent's earnings, the most intelligent kids get educated regardless of wealth. This is an advantage for the country as a whole. You can also say: The educated pay back for their education through taxes. The same applies to the health care, which additionally seems to be remarkably cost efficient in the Nordic countries (compared to the US at least). We all will need support around our birth, during the time when we grow up, when we get ill and when we get old. We all need education. Those needs are as common as our general need for streets and law and order and protection by an army. All will probably become seniors. In any case, all have reason to prepare for that. If the preparation is made by individual savings or by mandatory contribution to a general system is the difference. The cost for living and health care during your last years won't change if you live in a libertarian state or in the nanny-states of Europe. The only difference is the method of paying. Here you pay in advance via the tax system. The same goes for primary and secondary education. All who earn money have once upon a time used the pre-schools and schools, and in our society you pay for it through the tax some years later. In other systems you "borrow" it from your parents when you use the service, and then "pay back" to your kids when they grow up. Neoclassical economists use to argue that the high taxations in the Nordic countries must lead to high unemployment, low productivity, low rates of investments and too little incentives to work and innovate. Now and then these arguments are presented in s.c.n., and regularly the following will be presented: The Nordic experience shows that 50% taxation is not too high to keep most people from working. In the 80s there was full employment despite high taxes and an extensive social security system. People still prefer work to unemployment. Sweden could maintain full employment until 1990s, but now the open unemployment is higher than in the US, although the criteria of the statistics differ. The Nordic model worked well till the 90'ies economic depression, but it may have gotten into trouble in some of the countries now. On the other hand, one could argue that thanks to this model the recession in the beginning of the 90'ies became moderated in a very favorable way, compared for instance to the development in the United Kingdom. It's often noted that the level of investments in Finland only some 5-10 years ago was very high, maybe too high, and that Sweden has a trade surplus (i.e. producing to a higher value than they consume) whereas USA has a trade deficit. Productivity is relatively high in Norden. Social security does not lower productivity. In fact U.S. style low pay employment does not have as great incentives to high productivity as the Nordic union negotiated pay model. Among the positive sides of this high-taxation system, one can note: * almost no poverty or starvation, as is the case in American ghettos * virtually no homelessness problem * very little crime * equal opportunity to education & health care, regardless of the wallets Another example is that if a US worker is forced to have an expensive car and drive for two hours each way to get to work, spending money burning gasoline, that shows up as a bigger contribution to GDP than that of the Finnish worker who lives in a comfortable cogeneratively heated house out in Käpylä, doesn't need a car, and rides an inexpensive tram in to work. 2.8.4 Now, when the Soviet Union has fallen, you are free to liberate your economies! What often seems to be forgotten is that the Nordic countries have the same balance in political life as Canada and the US - namely (apparent) democracy. Nordics have a right to choose whether they want to spend public money on welfare, health care and education or not. They do so by participating in elections, in numbers varying between 70% and 90% of those eligible to vote (unlike the U.S. where 50% of registered voters is considered a great turnout). Our representatives come from many parties in approximate proportion to the vote (whereas the U.S. is often "winner-takes-all"). They enjoy (relative) freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and (most) benefits of market economies. That's why you'll get a cold shoulder if you try to label them Socialists, plainly state that their welfare system is broken and needs fixing, that their culture needs to be preserved from outside influence, and so on. It's a choice, and the Nordics are doing their best in exercising this choice in a manner consistent with their values and their culture. But it is a fact that the countries in the western (democratic) part of Europe never became "free capitalistic" states as the USA, and Americans see clear similarities between the western European societies and the communist ideals. Some writers use to argue that it's because the US didn't introduce any of what is now known as libertarian thought, that hardly any countries in this part of Europe bothered to try them. Or that the Nazi influence scared most countries off in trying a political ideology other than communism. It's a misconception to believe that all of Europe was forced or tended to adopt a "Socialistic" policy after the 2nd World War. After the war, the only thing which with force could have been an agent for Socialist or collectivist policies where the politic, economic and historic realities in the respective countries. What happened in East could not enforce Leninism (or related ideologies) in the democracies west of the iron curtain. Quite the contrary. An alternative view is that Marxism is a product of collectivist Old-world thinking, and that it's the Old-world customs which Americans recognize in Socialism. One outgrow of this Old-world collectivism and stress on homogeneity is most probably the way people feel responsible for each other, and each other's kids, in Scandinavia. Maybe it's wrong to connect this with press reports on scientifically determined sign of how unpaid voluntary work is more prevalent in Scandinavia than in any other part of Europe. But it's tempting when Yanks stress this aspect of their society as something where they are world leading. :->>> One could say that after ww2 not much changed. The societies were as centralistic and non-individualistic as they had been since god-knows-when. Democracy was re-established in the parts of Europe which weren't governed by Soviet troops. That was the main influence of UK/USA - except for the economical and cultural. Liberalism was not at all unknown to Europeans. Nor Conservatism. All the time from the 1848-revolutions is marked by the reaction on the danger of the urban concentrations of proletarians. Marxism, late 19:th century Social Conservatism and Liberalism are the most obvious signs. What happened after the first world war, 1918, was the success of Liberalism with full democracy in all countries, and then a backlash when non-democrats came to power either through democratic elections, or as a response to the unstable governmental situation which the democracy had led to: In short the political map of the pre-ww2-societies in Europe could be described as consisting of three blocks. Socialists, Liberals and Conservatives. All three in opposition to the other two. (The fascistic movements are then associated with the Conservatives, which is true if one regards alliances, but not quite true if one looks more directly on propaganda and programs.) The Socialistic block was split between reformists and revolutionists. And in some countries it was the reformists and the Liberals who together were strong enough to compete with the anti-democratic forces. After the second world war the Fascist parties had lost all credibility. For the people in the destroyed Europe (well, west of the iron curtain) non-individualistic solutions were judged as most fit, as typical in the German sick insurance system or centralized accords for agreement on wages. I think one could say that most people (sympathizing with all three blocks, the Conservative, Liberal and Socialist) favored collectivist solutions, seeing democracy as collectivist. The most individualistic tendencies were to be discovered among Liberals. The difference between Germany and Norden was not the intentions, but the different positions the societies had to start from. Germany was destroyed. The Nordic societies were not. The eastern part of Europe (if Russia included, far more than the half) learned to know the Russian masters and their ideology. It was however only a tiny minority in West who aimed at a development as in the Soviet satellite states. 2.8.5 What are the differences of the economies of the respective Nordic countries? Norway - the oil incomes, the fish industry. Denmark - virtually none. (Lower beer taxation.) Sweden - lower income taxes; other taxes and national debt higher. Finland - the highest unemployment rate. Iceland - the dependency on fishing. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ]
Subject: 2.9 Valborg, Midsummer and other festivals (in production) 2.9.1 Valborg Val Davies <> wrote: I recently came across a reference to an occasion called "Valborg" and on looking it up in the dictionary find that it apparently translates into English as "Walpurgis Night". I confess to being none the wiser. :-( [ Henrik Ernoe: ] Valborg is the Scandinavian name for the Catholic Saint Walpurgis. Walpurgis is believed to be the patron of witches (this is of course not certified by the Church). Her day is the 1st of May. Walpurgis night is the night before May 1st. On which nature was suppossed to be potent. So if a girl wanted to get pregnant the following year she would go and bathe in a holy well or creek on that night. There was also a number of magical rituals supposed to make livestick fertile that were carried out on Valborgs eve. [ Antti Lahelma: ] It's the 1st of May. A important holiday in these parts; you wear a white student cap (supposing you ever graduated), a silly nose (optional), drink a whole lot of alcohol and walk aimlessly in the crowd downtown. In Helsinki, one of the main events is the crowning of a statue of a mermaid (Havis Amanda, a symbol of the city) with said white cap. I presume it's old pagan festival to welcome the spring; the Christian excuse for celebrating it has to do with a certain St. Valborg, a German 9th (?) century abbess who probably did something pious that has nothing to do with Valborg (Vappu in Finnish) as we know it. [ Alo Merilo: ] In Estonia the Walpurgis Night (in Estonian "Volbriöö") is basically when all self-respecting present or past university students who belong to either a fraternity /sorority ("korporatsioon") or a student society, have probably the biggest party of the year. The tradition probably has its roots in Germany. [ Johan Olofsson: ] The festival has its roots in on of the pagan rites to honour the return of Spring. In Sweden the important part is the Eve, the last day in April, when people make big bonfires and greet the Spring with a lot of singing. 2.9.2 Midsummer Midsummer's eve is The Greatest Festival during the year. This day huge phallic poles are dressed in green leaves and lot's of flowers, erected, and then people dance ring dances around it, and play games and make babies. It's easy to see the connection with the pagan rite with the purpose to help give good harvests in the autumn. Due to the heavy partying no-one is able to work the day after, why at least the Swedish government has moved the holliday from the real midsummer's eve to the nearest Friday.
Subject: 2.10 Nordic alcohol customs There are a few facts which often tend to be forgotten when discussing the alcohol habits of North-Europeans. The maybe most important explanation for the Nordic behavior is the very long tradition of mead and beer drinking. At least since the stone age Germanians have left traces of brewing intoxicating beverages from grain. Wine was grown by Germans first at the time of Charlemagne, when the Nordics since long had established our own cultural identity, and still today it's almost impossible to grow wine in Scandinavia. Mead can however not be stored. Mead has to be prepared for each time there is a need for it, as at festivals, and then all of the mead has to be consumed or it will be wasted. The Nordic all-or-nothing attitude to alcohol has a plausible explanation in our historic and geographic conditions. Secondly beer and mead are made from grain, which otherwise would be used as food. Richness and power made it possible to afford brewing; poverty, failure of the crops and starving meant "no booze or you'll die!" To be able to serve ones guests a plenty of alcohol is a deeply rooted signal of richness, authority and good times worthy lords and magnates. The holiday behavior of Finns staggering off and on their ferries in Tallin, Sundsvall and Stockholm, and the Swedes reeling off and on the ferries in Helsingřr, Fredrikshavn and Copenhagen, is nothing but the traditional way of celebration for a people not used to wine. Parallels are seen in the traditions on Ireland and in Scotland. Wine has become available and affordable outside of its traditional areas since only a few decades (no time at all compared to the millenniums the beer tradition has had to root in the culture) - let's see if we Northerners will learn to use alcohol in a wine-like manner before the good times have changed and we are back at the home brewed mead again. Other cultures have had long time to learn a suitable pattern for wine consumption: regularly but in dosages so small that one will be able to function as a human, as a parent and as a worker also the day after the consuming - and immediately as a witty companion and a good lover. [ the sections above are available at the www-page ] -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- END OF PART 2 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- © Copyright 1994-98 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson. You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL for the original archive (as: <>), where the most recent version of this document can be found. -- e-mail: s-mail: Majeldsvägen 8a, 587 31 LINKÖPING, Sweden www:

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