Norse Valentine’s Day? If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it kind of is.
The truth is, the Norse didn’t really have what you and I might consider a Valentine’s Day. They had a patron goddess of love, but she’s also the patron goddess of war. So, take that with a grain of salt. However, you can still celebrate a mid-February holiday even if you’re not interested in exchanging Valentines.
The modern religion of Asatru, a form of heathenry that celebrates the old Norse gods, decided to fill the gap left by Valentine’s Day with Valisblot. Valisblot is named for Vali, Odin’s youngest son, who is born, grows to manhood in a day, and avenges the murder of his brother, Baldr. Unlike Odin and Thor, Vali survives Ragnarok and is sort of a representation of new hope for the Norse. This is not really a day of romance, although some celebrants of Asatru blend in the day’s meaning with that of Valentine’s Day.
Rather, it’s a day of remembrance and vengeance. Just as spring begins to blossom forth from the ground, winter must die. And with it, the traditions that kept away the bleak and cold of the long, Scandinavian nights.
While this is a blot, or a sacrificial feast, many celebrants of Asatru prefer to eat a simple, cold meal instead.
A prayer from the Asatru Community, a great resource for those interested in Asatru, to Vali reads:
Hail Vali, bringer of new light!
Your shaft pierces Winter’s heart
And promise of new Spring.
Hail to you! And may your light enter our hearts, as well.
Be with us Vali, son of Odin and Rind.
May you forever dwell
Always in the homesteads of our people.
We hail you as defend of our family
If you are tired of the bleariness of winter already and ready to start spring with some romance, why not consider sending some Viking graffiti to your beloved? Bryggen, an old quarter of the town Bergen in Norway, is home to 550 carved, wooden sticks that were used as runic messages between family and loves back in the days of the ancient Norse. To read up on some of the cuter love notes, click here.
Alternatively, you could offer up a prayer or deed to Freyja, the Norse goddess of love. Set up an altar to Freyja using her symbols: cat figures, amber, honey, sweet meads and wines, and delectable pastries. It may not seem very Viking, but for Freyja, the sweeter, the better. Freyja is a great goddess for young women, so consider helping or spending time with the important ladies in your life– your sisters, your girlfriends, or even a significant other.
You can also pray to Frigga, who is the goddess of beauty and marriage. In many circles of Norse Paganism or Astaru, she is one and the same as Freyja, but not all. Frigga is the weaver goddess, by whose hands the clouds in the sky are woven. She also winds together the fates of men and women who are destined to be together. To make Frigga an altar, focus on the colors of the sky on a sunny day-- light blues, whites, and ivories. Woven items, such as clothing or blankets, are Frigga's favorites, as are the tools of fabric craftsmen, like a spindle or loom. As Odin's wife, she loves mead just as much as he does. Additionally, make sure to keep your altar free of dust or refuse. Frigga doesn't tolerate mess!
Remember, time spent in these acts must be selfless, so don’t go into it expecting something in return– especially if that something could be harmful. Freyja may be the goddess of love, but she is also a war goddess, and she chooses who dies in battle. That’s your only warning.