Northern Europe

Home » Northern Europe

Etruscan art – Italy before the Romans

By | 2017-08-31T12:20:11+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Art, Northern Europe|

Apollo of Veii (ca. 520 BC) Etruscan art is in some ways a lot like Greek art of the same time, because the Etruscans admired the Greeks very much and imitated a lot of their art (and bought a lot of art from the Greeks as well). But there are also some interesting differences. [...]

Christmas Trees – American holidays

By | 2017-08-14T14:26:19+00:00 August 14th, 2017|North America, Northern Europe, Religion|

Christmas Tree in Germany (late 1700s, by Joseph Keller) Because Christmas is related to old celebrations of the winter solstice, evergreen trees have always been popular decorations in northern countries at Christmastime. They're green when everything else is dead and white. In the time of the Roman Empire, people sometimes hung small bits of metal from trees at this [...]

Early European inventions

By | 2017-06-29T02:47:02+00:00 June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Science|

For a long time, northern Europe was a scientific backwater: new ideas came from other places to northern Europe, and not the other way around. The earliest people came to northern Europe probably about a million years ago. These were not modern people, but earlier almost-humans. From Africa, they brought with them the knowledge of [...]

Who was the Norse god Odin?

By | 2017-06-29T02:30:16+00:00 June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Religion|

Viking stone, 600s AD, from Gotland, Sweden. Odin is riding his horse, Sleipnir. Sometime before 300 AD, people started to think of Odin (or Wotan) as the chief of the German gods, as Zeus was for the Greeks and Jupiter for the Romans. Odin replaced the earlier chief god, Tyr. Odin had two brothers, [...]

Who was the Norse god Loki?

By | 2017-06-29T02:14:05+00:00 June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Religion|

Norse god Loki? (Snaptun Stone, Sweden, ca 1000 AD) Loki was the German god of tricks. He was kind of like the Greek god Hermes. To help him in his tricks, he could transform himself into lots of different shapes including into girl shapes if he wanted. He was the father of Fenrir the [...]

Who were the Norse gods?

By | 2017-06-29T02:10:43+00:00 June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Religion|

A Viking religious sacrifice (ca. 900 AD, Sweden) From their first appearance in historical literature around 100 BC, the Germans were polytheistic. They believed in many gods, just like the Greeks and the Romans and the Persians and the Indians and other Indo-European people. In fact, the most important German gods are closely [...]

Freya – European goddess of love

By | 2017-06-27T17:18:59+00:00 June 27th, 2017|Northern Europe, Religion|

Freya wearing her necklace (about 800 AD) Freya is the only important goddess of the Germans. She was married to Odin, and she's a kind of fertility goddess like Hera or Aphrodite or Venus. Her name just means "lady" in old Norse and old German. Friday is named after her, because in Latin [...]

Kriemhild’s Revenge – More Niebelungenleid

By | 2017-06-27T17:01:48+00:00 June 27th, 2017|Literature, Northern Europe|

Kriemhild goes to marry Etzel of the Huns (1400s AD) Part II: Kriemhild's Revenge Well, naturally that wasn't the end of the story. A woman like Kriemhild wasn't just going to sit there, after Hagen killed her husband. After some time, King Etzel of the Huns (Attila the Hun) came and proposed marriage [...]

Niebelungen – A German story

By | 2017-06-27T16:51:57+00:00 June 27th, 2017|Literature, Northern Europe|

Prince Siegfried kills the dragon Fafnir -Door of the Christian church of Hylestad in Norway (1200s AD) The Niebelungenlied, or the Story of the Niebelungs, was written about 1200 AD in the Holy Roman Empire. Nobody knows the name of the author, but he or she was probably writing down a story that [...]