Food is always important for one’s nutrition, and in these times, food was even more important than nowadays, it was scarce, and most of the food existed in specific months, such as the fruits, it was important to conserve food for the coming winter, and there were many techniques to do such. Winter was always a trial, and those who had a great year of harvest, and could store food and had time to dry the meat and smoke the fish, would pass this battle against winter, and be happy to see another spring. This was why the food was so important, and as i told you, the northern peoples would only take with them important things to their graves.
Much of the knowledge we know about the Viking societies and other northern people from Scandinavia, comes from their burial rites.
After death, it was belived by the Vikings, that they would go to the realm of the their gods, to a place where they would continuing to do their works, their crafts, making battle, hunting, fishing, studying, farming, and all those things people do in this world by that time. As such, they would need in the afterlife, all the tools for each profession, and all the other objects they used in their mundane life, so these things they would take with them to their graves. All the important things of a person, would be taken to that person’s burial, in this way, we can actually know what kind of people they were and what things they would give importance to. Imagine yourself, what would you take to the afterlife? I bet nowadays, i wouldn’t be something as simple as the things in those times were. Maybe your computer?!
Generally, men took their weapons and other tools of their trade, if they were craftsmen, or blacksmiths, they would take the tools of their work, farmers would take utensils of agriculture and in some cases, dead farm animals would also go. Women were buried with domestic equipment, their jewellery.
We have that common idea. that these burials were made in boats or even ships, and that is true, but not all would be in such matter. Those who could not afford these burials in burning boats, would be buried in land, in mounds, surrounded by a ring of stones, laid out to make a shape of a boat. Also in these cases of burials in land in stone rings, could also be mounds of more than one person, a family burial mound, built near the family’s farmstead, so in this way, the family members could visit them and celebrate with them throughout all the celebrations of the year, especially in the celebrations of October, like the Dísablót, Alfablót and the Vinternatsblót, celebrations more turned to the ancestors.
Of course to make a great journey, and one as important as this one, the final journey to the afterlife, food was needed, so in this matter, food was also something of great importance, that these people would take to the after life in their burial. Depending on each one’s wealth, all sorts of food would be put in their burial, the food that the northern peoples were used to eat, most of it was seafood and meat, but also fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, and because food also requires drinking, cider and mead were the main drinks.