Saturday, November 26, 2011

How long does winter have to be to be a Fimbulwinter?

I was lurking somewhere on the net being distracted by someone (I forget who) 's conjecture about the length of the fimbulvetr (really big/terrible winter) which would be only a year and a half because there is no summer in between. However, the Norse measured years by winters. The Zoëga entry on 'vetr' lists year as an alternative definition.
Then there is the word for season 'misseri' which lasts for six months, giving the Norse two seasons-summer and winter only much like us Canadians. In the plural, however misseri means a twelve month period. So, you could make an argument for an eighteen month winter which would be terrible enough but it could very well be three years. Snorri stated in Gylfaginning that the fimbulwinter would be preceded by three winters (years) of fighting. Then a wolf swallows the sun, after which it won't just be cold but dark, too, since another wolf swallows the moon. The gods will be fighting in the dark. Or by the flame of Surt's sword, which everyone would want to crowd around being the only thing giving off heat for a while.
Anyway, since Snorrie mentions the other three years while discussing fimbulwinter, I think he is saying it lasts for three years.


Anonymous said...

Winter's Coming!!!!!!

Tracy said...

Three years! That's a longgggg winter!
Have been watching Frozen Planet on TV for the past few weeks (Brilliant programme!) - a dark winter that lasts several months is bad enough. And would feel like years when you were in the middle of it.

Anachronist said...

I am against such a winter. I suppose my opinion counts. Three years without sun? No, that's riddiculous. ;)

The Red Witch said...

@winter's coming!

LOL yes it is.
Fimbulwinter precedes Ragnarok so anyone who survives the period of strife would have to be tough.
There is a third word for year which is 'ar'. The part about the three years is in the Prose Edda which fortunately is not written in skladic verse so there are few kennings.

Kristin said...

I thought Snorrie was explicit that the Fimbulwinter was 3 years long?

I'm with Anacronist--three years without sun? I guess we should stock up on vitamin D, then! :)

The bad thing is that all the participants knew ahead of time who would die and who would survive.

I still think Martin got his "winters last years" idea from the Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok.

The Red Witch said...

Depends on how you interpret 'vetr'. The blog I was reading went with 'season' and six months for a total of 18 months. The glorious thing is the participants knew who would die and faced it without flinching.
As for Martin, there was that passage in the Nglo Saxon chronicle about the rule of King Stephen that might have ontributed too.