Celebrate the season Nordic style

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:48

WinterNights Fest will run all day this Sunday Vernon — Come dressed as an elf, a Viking or an Old Norse villager to Vetrnaetr — Winter Nights Festival — at the Nordic House on Route 94, on Sunday, Oct. 23. The celebration runs from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. rain or shine or snow. It will be family oriented, educational and fun, say the organizers, who add that visitors don't have to dress in festive clothing or costumes to enjoy the event. Among the activities that will offer a glimpse into the Norse traditions and culture are: singing, reading poetry and blessings, playing games, giving thanks and honoring the gods and other beings that share their worlds with the local community (tribes) and the land. In part this festival asks for protection against the harshness of winter. To help with that the Kiwanis and VernonsOwn Foundation will make winter coats available to those who need them. They are asking for a $1 donation, for those who can pay. This money will go toward helping provide food for local pantries. Musical feature Norsewind is a band that goes beyond just playing and singing songs based on old Norse traditions. These traditions are carried on and are a way of life for them. Danjul, a cheiftan of a Norse/Germanic tribe and a member of Norsewind, will perform a solo set at the Nordic House for this year’s Vetrnaetr. He will be performing original and traditional folk music including songs from Norsewind, traditional Irish songs, some old time music and more. With the help from a close tribal brother, he will also perform rune galdr and demonstrate techniques for everyone to join in. Games There will be two types of tournaments during the day. A kubb or Viking lawn chess is described as a cross between horseshoes — but with a wooden baton being thrown — and bowling where one is attempting to knock over an opponent’s wood “kubbs” and then the king. There will also be hnefatafl [Nhev-eh-TAH-full] games, which are ancient Germanic and Celtic board games played on a checkered or latticed surface involving two teams of uneven strength or number of pieces. Cultural truths Organizers of this event want visitors to get a sense of the Norse culture and to recognize that there is much more to it than the one-dimensional image so often portrayed. Many may imagine the Vikings as the ravaging warriors with horned helmets and longboats setting out to conquer and pillage, but as with other folklore especially with regard to the early heathens and pagans, this image only contains traces of truth, according to Gary Martinsen, owner of the Nordic House. Martinsen says that while helmets were worn, they were not universal headgear. "They were only worn by the few that had the means. Additionally and sadly for the image portrayed over and over in early pictures and up through the ages to modern times their helmets did not have horns. So the typical image of a Viking wearing a horned helmet is a nice way to imagine them but an incorrect one." He goes on to discuss the Nine Values/Virtues of the Vikings: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, Perseverance. About the program WinterNights program is being put on by The Spirit of the Arts Foundation (SOTA productions), working hand in hand with Gary Martinsen of the Nordic House and Vendor Finders USA. For more information visit www.winternightsfest.com. Vendors and sponsors can also contact them to see if openings are still available.