There will be about 9 hours and 20 minutes of daylight today in Paradelle. It’s partly sunny but below freezing outside. Some people mark the Winter Solstice with celebration. Optimists, like the ancients, didn’t think of today as the longest night of the year as much as it was the turning point after which nights would become increasingly shorter. Those in the northernmost parts of the Northern Hemisphere were really looking forward to more daylight and shorter nights.
From what I have read, a Viking toast includes a boast – something you are proud of from the past year – a toast – to someone you want to honor – and an oath for the year ahead. If you’re gathering with a group to do some solstice celebrating, you work your way around the room and each person makes a toast/boast/oath and takes a sip (or whatever amount is appropriate to the celebrants and the number in the room).
Keep in mind that in Norway, the sun on the Winter Solstice may only be up only a few hours. That must have been quite frightening to the ancients who had no idea that Earth was on a tilted axis and that’s why this happens. They believed that a wolf of Hel, the goddess of death, was eating the sun who was a maiden and the beloved of all gods.
What should we drink with our Viking toast? Here are 5 options:
The Germanic wassail which is a mulled cifer (or mulled beer or mead) has nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. I like this choice because it is warmed and served with toast.
Go Nordic with some glogg which you can make with red wine and spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and orange. It is sometimes boosted a bit with some vodka or brandy.
Eggnog isn’t authentic Viking fare but very Yuletide in tradition. If you drink it from a horn it will look more Viking. Brandy is the traditional alcoholic component.
If you can find some mead, that’s appropriate. Don’t overdo it but I’ve been known to add some cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. Heat it up till it’s like a cup of warm tea.
I have no objection to some nice hot toddies tonight. My late Aunt Millie would approve – but those ancient Vikings would probably beat me up if I served it to them.
The Norse holiday season doesn’t end until Jólablót , or Yule Sacrifice, in January – but that’s a post for another day.