Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sometimes, a Viking just needs a nap
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
from the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the Gods will drive our ships to new land,
to fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!
In my house, this tune is known as the "Viking Song" - although I kind of chuckle at the more overt xenophobia (or perhaps its just tongue-in-cheek) of Led Zeppelin's original title: "The Immigrant Song." Anyway, it's a big favorite of my two oldest, who are known to wail along with Plant as he garbles the chorus:
On we sweep with threshing oar,
our only goal will be the western shore.
Usually, hearing the song prompts my oldest guy to want to talk about Vikings, and in particular about Berserkers. History tells us that Berserkers were fairly terrifying - clad in the skin of wolves or bears and fighting with a ferocity that was seemingly unmatched in the ancient world. It has been suggested that the word "berserker" itself comes from a perversion of the ancient Norse words meaning "bear shirt." To me, that seems like it is a bit too convenient. What is clear, however, is that one of the lasting legacies of the berserkers' trancelike fury is our modern word "berserk."
Every May, our neighboring town of Poulsbo hosts Viking Fest. Billed as a celebration of the town's Norwegian heritage, it is actually little more than a street carnival and an excuse to eat funnel cakes and ride spinning rides (with occasionally disastrous results if you do both in rapid succession). Also, there's the swag. By far the most popular item seems to be the plastic viking helmet, complete with horns. They must sell thousands of these things, and I confess that my two oldest boys each have one.
Honestly, I've never understood the horned helmet. If you were going into battle, it seems to me that having horns affixed to either side of your head would just give your enemy something extra to grab onto. Anyway, who am I to argue with the historical accuracy of hundreds of years of Viking stereotypes?
The one problem with the Viking hat, at least as far as I can tell, is that it doesn't come in a small enough size. Also, metal and horn (or extruded plastic if you get your hat at Viking Fest) is kind of scratchy on delicate skin. What a guy really needs is a kindler, gentler Viking hat. One that pays homage to the fiercesome legacy of Viking warriors, while still being snuggly. One that works even if your idea of pillaging is rooting at your mother's breast.
Problem solved. Here is my youngest, in Viking hat made from Berroco Comfort. Snuggly and - since its a nylon/acrylic blend - washable. That last bit is really important - pillaging can get messy.