Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the blonde-hared, blue-eyed Vikings raped and pillaged their way across the world, leaving nothing but conquest and violence in their wake. These brutes stripped the local people of their material possessions and wealth and sailed on to their next destination.

Sound familiar? That’s probably because even popular culture representations of Vikings center mainly on the stereotypical Aryan – such as Marvel’s Thor – who wields a mighty hammer but is a little soft on brains. Or to look to an older representation of Vikings, see Kirk Douglas’ interpretation of the culture in the 1958 movie, The Vikings.


But who were the Vikings, really? The truth will surprise you.

The term Viking was not created until the 18th century, when it was coined to refer to everyone in Scandinavia. The Vikings, more properly called “the Norse,” are misunderstood because they did not leave detailed history books. Instead, they left behind beautiful poetry, runic inscriptions, burial sites and kennings that provide a radically different look at their culture.

14. Four Days a Week

Norse culture dominates your daily life – literally. Five days of the week are named for Norse Gods. Why? Because the Norse shared a pantheon of Gods with other Germanic people, such as the Angles and the Saxons, who collaborated to name the days of the week.


Tuesday is named for the Norse God, Tyr and the Anglo-Saxon God Tiw, who guards the sky and presides over war. Wednesday is named for the Anglo-Saxon God, Woden, also known as the Norse God, Odin. Thursday is named in honor of the Norse God, Thor, and Friday is so named because of the Norse/Ango-Saxon Goddess, Freya, who is associated with fertility, love and beauty. Freya is also the leader of the Valkyries.