Introduction to the Old Icelandic Calendar
Did you know that people who lived during the Viking age, perceived time differently from how we perceive it today? Due to the different way of thinking, a person would not celebrate their birthday on the same date as we do today. Do you know your Viking birthday?
It is a topic that very few give thought to yet it is one that we are lucky enough to know due to Iceland having retained the ancient way of using time up until late 18th century. For the last 5-years, I have studied the old Icelandic calendar, traditions and celebrations and annually published an educational version on Amazon. The published version integrates our Gregorian calendar with the ancient one so that we can more easily understand and interpret the old ways and how our ancestors thought of time.
The Old Icelandic Calendar was first introduced to Iceland at the formation of Alþingi in the year 930AD and is likely to have been brought over with the settlers from Norway. Since then, it was amended slightly at different times but remained as was for the most part. It wasn´t until the year 1700AD that Iceland took up the use of the Gregorian calendar but even then, the people of Iceland continued to use the old methods. The basics of the old calendar is still taught and is as known to the average Icelander as the Sagas.
For the last couple of years, I have attended various events where I have been invited to speak on the subject. The reception has been extremely good and the feedback positive. Not only have the attendees found it informative and helpful but learning about the old way of thinking provides a deeper understanding of old writings from Iceland – such as the Sagas and the Edda’s.
The session also goes through various traditions associated with the almanac cycle and touch upon blot celebrations, importance of the almanac cycle and why months were named in the way that they were. What human behaviour is associated with each month and how did the Viking deal with the discrepancy of their simplified almanac in order to align it properly.
Not an obvious topic to be heard but certainly one that played a large part of the behaviour of people. Today, perhaps more personal to those attending is that they will leave the session having learned something new about themselves - g when to celebrate their own birthday – Viking style.
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