That Long, Terrible Winter

Oh, wow.

While doing a routine trawl of Google News for paganism-related topics – something I do far too infrequently and therefore don’t get inspired to write stuff for my pagan group’s website – I found a story in the Daily Express about… ahem… Ragnarok:

The end of the world IS nigh…if you believe the Vikings

Says the standfirst:

“IF you have plans for Saturday night, you better make them wild ones because the end of the world is nigh – according to the Vikings.”

The article goes on to explain that, according to Norse mythology, the world was supposed to end on 22 February this year.  It then compares this prophecy to the contrived nonsense the western world built on the Mayan Long Count calendar without any justification whatsoever.

Similarly without any actual basis, the Daily Express settled on 22 February.  Now that that date has safely passed, what is the mood in the Daily Express office?  Satisfaction at having taken the correct, light-hearted, slightly mocking tone that they took?  Or satisfaction at having made a successful plug for the Jorvik Viking Centre’s annual Viking Festival, which this year was on the theme of – you got it – Ragnarok?

To Be Fair[1] to the Express, they do openly quote Jorvik’s Festival director Danielle Daglan, who does claim, after referecing previous failed prophecies such as the Mayan doomsday[2], that:

“[T]he sound of the horn is possibly the best indicator yet that the Viking version of the end of the world really will happen on 22 February next year.”

Danielle is clearly talking bollocks – albeit good-natured publicity bollocks for the massively entertaining, fun and educational Viking Festival, to which I would encourage you all to go next year.  It’s awesome.  Please go.  But bollocks nonetheless.  The Vikings did not predict a specific date for the ‘Twilight of the Gods’.  All we know is that it will be preceded by three years of uninterrupted winter – which, all meteorological gloom and pessimism aside, we haven’t had.  So Ragnarok won’t be this year, and it won’t be next year.  Yes, the Fimbulvetr – that long, terrible winter – might start this year; but that’ll still put Danielle’s “next year” two years out.

What I rather suspect has happened here is that Jorvik published their Festival schedule for 2014, and announced it would be on the theme of Ragnarok; the media picked up on Another End Of The World and ran in the wrong direction with it; and Jorvik went, “well, blimey, we couldn’t have hoped for much better publicity than this” and played along.

Still, at least the Express made some reference to the Festival in connection with their item.  BT’s news pages appeared to take it as read that there really is some Viking prophecy that the world will end, conveniently, on the precise date of this year’s big Festival finale.

[1] – © Absolutely Everyone In Almost Every Sentence All The Freaking Time
[2] – The Mayans themselves never actually predicated a doomsday on 21 December 2012. Moviemakers and book publishers, yes. Mayans, no.

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