#ragnarok2014 – The day we didn’t die

RagnorakThe end was nigh – again!

There have been a few times now that we’ve suspected the end was nigh and the destruction of planet earth was inevitably on its way. The Mayan Apocalypse of December 21st 2012, Y2K on January 1st 2000, the Viking Ragnarok of January 22nd 2014, and the British storms of the past few weeks (maybe a slight exaggeration but seriously, the colour of some of those clouds!) And what have we learnt from all these? Maybe a bit of a think about how we would like to spend our precious final minutes, but mostly we’ve learnt that doomsday predictors are just about as reliable as weathermen.

One popular way to spend the potential end of the world on Ragnarok, literally translated as ‘Fate or Twilight of the Gods,’ was at the Battle Spectacular marking the finale of York’s 30th Jorvik Viking Festival. According to Norse legend it all starts with a ‘winter of winters,’ three consecutive freezing winters with no summer bringing respite in between.  Then the Midgard Serpent, named Jormungand, would rise from the ocean depths, an event some believers claim happened last year when two giant fish washed up on the coast of California. Following this an epic battle would take place between the great Norse gods Thor, Loki, Odin, Freyr, Hermóðr in which Odin will be killed by Fenrir and all the other creator gods would also perish.

The dramatic end to all this: the wolf Skoll would devour the sun, and his brother Hati would eat the moon. This would cause the stars to fall out of the sky, the Earth would fall into the sea, and well that would be the end of us all. Nobody could survive all that, could they? But two lucky chosen ones would live to see another day atop a fresh and innocent new Earth, and it would be the responsibility of these two to repopulate the land.

So it’s fair to say we were expecting a few fireworks last Saturday and, despite it not panning out quite as described by Viking Myth (not to say we’re not relieved by that),  it was just as exciting nonetheless. Viking lovers flocked to York throughout the week and for the festival finale, sharing their experiences via twitter with the tag #ragnarok2014. There were beards, animal skins and horned helmets aplenty. And now we know we’re safe until the next possible predicted doomsday date (2018 – Hal Lindsey’s Second Coming), we’re rather looking forward to next year!

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Written by Aisling Serrant

An all round museum educator and enthusiast, Aisling's the Family Festival Coordinator at the Museum of London Docklands.

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