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Rituals at a Modern Viking Wedding: A Blood Sacrifice, Bride Running, and Obligatory Drinking

Rituals at a Modern Viking Wedding: A Blood Sacrifice, Bride Running, and Obligatory Drinking

While others may have had weddings with a Viking theme, it has been said that Rune and Elisabeth Dalseth are the first couple in almost 1,000 years to have held a true Viking wedding that includes several of the rituals performed in the nuptials of their Norse ancestors.

Members of a Norwegian Viking revivalists movement numbering 6,000 people, Elisabeth Dalseth, 27, and Rune Dalseth, 36, decided to hold their Viking wedding on the banks of a lake. The Daily Mail reports that instead of a bridal car, the couple chose to use two specially made longboats made by a local shipbuilder as their means of transport.

Elisabeth and Rune’s Viking wedding included locally built longboats. (You Tube Screenshot)

Elisabeth and Rune’s Viking wedding included locally built longboats. (You Tube Screenshot )

Rune followed the ritual of a traditional 10th century Norse wedding by arriving at the lake early in the morning with 10 friends. They set sail and were beckoned back for the ceremony by the call of a hunting horn.

For her part, it is said Elisabeth took a small step away from Viking tradition by arriving to the ceremony with her father and in a white dress – which she declared was “not a princess dress.” This diverges from the practice of a bride in the Viking age, who would have been escorted to the ceremony by one of her younger male family members with a sword to be presented as a gift to the groom.

Viking bride Elisabeth in her white dress. (You Tube Screenshot)

Viking bride Elisabeth in her white dress. ( You Tube Screenshot )

The leader of the ceremonies was a ‘gothi’, a pagan priest. He is a contact the pair made a year ago at a festival. Before the couple took their vows in front of their guests and the gothi, Elisabeth said they completed:

“the 'blot' ritual. This is when a cauldron of blood is put on top of a pile of stones. The blood is then drizzled over little figures of the gods and then across the forehead. It is supposed to symbolise the union of gods and people.”

The gothi (pagan priest) at the Viking wedding in Norway. (ViralKing)

The gothi (pagan priest) at the Viking wedding in Norway. ( ViralKing)

According to The Viking Answer Lady , traditionally there were different animals chosen for the blood sacrifice depending on which god or goddess was invoked. For example: a goat was sacrificed for Thor, a sow was meant for Freyja, and a boar or a horse would be sacrificed to Freyr. Pig’s blood was used in the current adaptation of a Viking wedding. This apparently differs from the more common modern Ásatrúar practice of using mead instead of a sacrificed animal.

Following the nuptials, the gothi surprised the 130 costumed guests by declaring it was time for the bruð-hlaup (Brullaup) or "bride-running." It was time for the families of the bride and groom to race each other to the wild hog roast feast. Elisabeth's family won, meaning Rune’s family had to follow the custom of serving the winners alcohol throughout the night.

The Brullaup. (You Tube Screenshot)

The Brullaup. ( You Tube Screenshot )

The customary honey beer drank at Elisabeth and Rune’s wedding was considered a vital part of the feast following the wedding ceremony in the Viking age . In fact, it was a legal requirement for a marriage to be considered valid. In the past, the bride was obligated to provide the drink to her husband, usually in a special cup. The groom would accept the vessel, consecrate the drink to Thor and toast to Odin, then hand it to his wife, who would make her toast to Freyja.

Elisabeth said that the wedding reception also included dancing to live music “that our ancestors danced to over a millennium ago” as well as singing and listening to old stories about the gods.”

‘Wodan and Frea stand out and look out of a window in the heavens.’ (Public Domain)

‘Wodan and Frea stand out and look out of a window in the heavens.’ ( Public Domain )

Unlike Rune and Elisabeth’s romantic marriage, traditionally, Viking marriages served a more practical purpose. According to The Viking Answer Lady :

“Since sexuality was thoroughly regulated by the laws, which made numerous provisions for extramarital activity and illegitimate children, it is logical that the Vikings saw marriage not so much as a means of limiting sexual activity, but rather as a means for forging alliances with other families.”

But Elisabeth made it clear her and Rune’s Viking wedding was a loving and unforgettable event for all involved. She said ,

“Some of the people who came were a little skeptical about it at the start, but by the end they could all feel the energy and the love that we generated. I think if you go to a wedding like ours, you will definitely think differently about what it is to be a Viking.”

Rune and Elisabeth in front of the gothi. ( You Tube Screenshot )

Top Image: Scene from the Viking wedding recently held in Norway. Source: You Tube Screenshot

By Alicia McDermott

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