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Every culture around the world has it’s own set of myths and legends that are used to explain all of the important things in life – the creation of the universe, birth, death and the afterlife. They also usually carried a moral message for the people who told them.
Like most ancient peoples the Vikings travelled great distances in their search for shelter and food. Being the great sailors that they were they were able to roam as far afield as Greenland, America and even to the Middle East. It is inevitable, then, that they would encounter a variety of other religions and that these would influence, and be influenced by, their own beliefs (Hel, the Viking Underworld, is similar to the Christian idea of Hell).
The Vikings were a warlike people who were fierce and brave in battle because they believed that dying in battle was rewarded with a place in Valhalla (the Hall of Heroes) where they would then feast and fight until Ragnarok (the end of the world). At this time these warriors would be called upon to fight alongside the gods in a huge clash between good and evil. Those that died a ‘straw death’ (old age or sickness) went to Hel (the Viking Underworld) and they would not get to take part in the final battle.
The Vikings believed that the world that we live in is one of Nine Worlds all centred around Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life. There are actually a few different creation myths that the Vikings believed in.
One story tells of how the world was created when a great bird laid an egg in the middle of an ocean of nothingness that eventually split and became the earth, sky and stars.
Another tells of the first giant, Ymir, being created from poison and fire and then creating first more giants and the the Aesir, the Gods. These gods then went on to kill their creators (much as the Olympians killed the Titans in Greeks mythology).
How do you believe the world began..?