Carpe Diem, & Viking Burials

Jan 12, 2012 in , , ,

LIFE – SUCH A BIG WORD packed into four tiny letters. It isn’t just a word, rather an entire experience. It is also volatile. In just one minute, a mistake or bad judgment can lead to an accident, and a life can be taken away, just like that. A car crash, cancer, even food poisoning - there are countless ways it could happen.

While we are alive, we should try to live with no regrets. That isn’t to say we should go completely wild because that too isn’t the right thing to do. Instead, seize the opportunities as they come. We only have one chance to make an impact on this world – change it for the better – so live life with an intention to do something important.

In a book that I was recently reading, one of the characters talked about how no one really has the energy to live each day as if it was our last, and even though it would be nice if we did, the statement is true. Some days we’re sick, some we spend doing less than enjoyable things, and on others, we may be too exhausted to do anything exciting or worthwhile. Well, the most important thing is that whatever we’re doing, we make the best of our time on Earth.

Time is fleeting, and sometimes feels like an illusion. Last week may seem like years ago, while we might remember something from last year vividly, as if it had occurred the previous day. In this sense, time can pass all too quickly, and one day when we wake up, we will realize that months have passed without us even knowing it.

So, with that in mind, we should try to be our happiest all of the time. Love people, don’t hold grudges, forgive easily, be optimistic, and carpe diem – seize the day.

Vikings, also known as Norse or Medieval Scandinavians, often had elaborate funerals. Of the most popular of these were ship burials, where the deceased was placed into a stone ship, along with other items said to help them in the afterlife. Tools of trade were sometimes placed with men in accordance to their work, and jewelry, along with household items, were part of women’s funeral ceremonies. Another notable item is not really an item at all. Slaves, called thralls, especially the females, were sometimes sacrificed and buried along with their masters.

This kind of burial, however, was only for the higher castes. People belonging to the lower ranks, especially slaves, were often just put into holes that were positioned so they would be helpful to their masters after they, too, passed away, and also to guarantee that they would not “return” from the dead.
Additionally, cremations were fairly common, and the temperatures used in the fires reached far higher than they do in modern cremations. The point of it was to make the smoke reach as high as possible, to raise the dead into the afterlife.

The “sjaund,” also called funeral ale, was one ritual that took place seven days after death, and people consumed alcohol during this time. It was only after this occurred that the heirs of the deceased could claim their inheritance.

Death was something that was feared by the Vikings, and they were very superstitious about the circumstances under which a person died and how the body was dealt with. A lot of their rituals had to do with preventing the dead from coming back to haunt the living.

Lastly, there are many tumuli, raised mounds to mark graves, of important people found throughout Scandinavia, and one of the larger ones is the Morre Mound Cemetery, located in Norway.