Although the Viking diet was relatively simple on a day-to-day basis, they did enjoy a good feast on occasion. Many of our modern celebrations mirror pagan festivals and Vikings would also have celebrated such things as midwinter, the return of the sun and good harvests.

Various religious days were celebrated, according to which god or goddess they followed. The most famous of these was Jól, which became Christmas as the Vikings adopted Christianity. They would also have celebrated any important event that touched their families or their community: weddings, births, deaths, a successful raid or a trading voyage would all be used as an excuse to party.


The nature of the feasts themselves was dependent upon the status of the household that was celebrating. A simple farm might celebrate with food that was very similar to their normal fare but in much larger quantities. Larger farms, successful traders and raiders, and especially district chieftains, might have more elaborate food with large quantities of roast meats and fish, and perhaps exotic vegetables and fruits captured or traded during voyages.

Alcohol, in the form of mead, ale and even wine, was a major component of any feast. Many toasts were drunk and drunkenness was common.


Feasts were not, of course, simply about eating, there would also have been entertainments. Singing and poetry were often a part of Viking meals but would have played an even more important part in a major celebration. Skalds would be called upon to perform favourite pieces, or perhaps to compose a special poem relating to the event being celebrated.

As the festivities reached their climax and the levels of alcohol consumption increased, there might be games and contests. Trials of strength, dexterity and endurance were common and warriors would vie with each other to prove their prowess.