This is going to piss some people off. But it has to be said, and since I haven’t yet seen anyone address this issue, it’s up to me to put on my gloves and do the dirty work. So let’s get to it.
If you have ever spent time in a Viking reenactment camp, you will notice that there are some individuals walking around with a certain know-it-all attitude. They will sometimes approach other people and tell them how they should dress to be “historically correct”. While we can all agree that it is rather uncommon to see supposedly heterosexual males being that obsessed with colors, fabrics and jewelry, the point here is that these people, let’s call them the Fashion Police, add no more value to the growing Viking community than inanimate mannequins. In fact, a mannequin would probably make a better contribution to the community since they would at least not say anything. Now, I understand that those who arrange Viking reenactment events want all participants to do their best to appear historically correct, and believe me, it is something I am personally rather obsessed about. But here’s the thing: There is nothing historically correct about a bunch of people parading around dressed like rich, dead noblemen from the late Viking Age. Because that is what those events always look like to me. Far too many people are wearing what they believe to be replicas of the clothes found on the remains of rich people of that era. But they look nothing like normal Norsemen or –women and what’s worse, they have none of their skills.
Let me elaborate. Life in the Viking Age was different from ours in many ways. For instance, they had no lighters, nor did they have matches. Making and maintaning a fire was an essential skill and you would learn to master that skill from an early age. To me, it makes sense to use flint and steel to light my fire in the morning whenever I find myself in a Viking reenactment camp. I may not always have the right materials for catching the spark, I might use charred cotton for that, but at least I am not waking up in a heap of beer cans, only to light my breakfast fire with kerosene and a lighter. And, while I do not have a sword – very few Norsemen did – at least if I had one, I wouldn’t wave it about like an over-excited five year old.
At this point I guess those out there who feel targeted are thinking about ways to defend themselves on some social media platform like The Book of Fake Faces. The irony in that is of course that the stoicism I feel defines the Norsemen is rarely present among the participants of social media quarrels. I wish the keyboard warriors would pick themselves up by their sagging trousers and get themselves out in the woods. Why? Because in order to become a Viking, you must first become a woodsman. Learn basic primitive fire-lighting skills. Spend a night out under the stars. Carve a bow out of a piece of wood. If you have nobody around who can teach you these skills, there are videos on YouTube. Make an effort. Being a Viking in this modern day is not a fancy dress party. It is a way of life.
– Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen