The raiding Viking doesn’t exist anymore. So…is it possible to be a modern day Viking? Opinions differ of course. In order to sort things out we’re going to look at what it meant to be a Viking during the Viking Age – and then see if anything of that can be transferred to the 21st Century.
Did nationality define a Viking? Even though Vikings originated from Scandinavia, the phenomenon was never about nationality. Not all Scandinavians were Vikings, and not all Vikings were Scandinavians. A large portion of the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians, or Norse as they are collectively known, were farmers. Then you had your share of young men (yes, the vast majority were young men, even though women and old folks participated) who for different reasons chose to seek their fortune through exploring, trading and raiding. Those were Vikings. As time passed you probably saw other nationalities joining the Viking bands. They didn’t become Scandinavians, but they would have become Vikings.
Did religion define a Viking? Being a Viking wasn’t about confession to a certain religion, or religion in the first place. You had Christian Vikings, Heathen Vikings and most likely the odd Viking who doubted the existence of gods, or who included Allah into his prayers (Muslim conquests happened at the same time as Vikings spent time in the southern regions). There were naturally individuals and groups who were stalwart worshippers of a certain religion, but you also had the opposite. It is known that many chose to worship both their Heathen gods and Christ.
Did race define a Viking? Being a Viking wasn’t about race or racial supremacy. Vikings were extremely tolerant toward other races and cultures, quickly picking up features they liked and incorporating them into their own culture. Sure, they ravaged other countries, took slaves and behaved as they’d be lords of this world…but that was just business. It wasn’t about race.
What did define a Viking? Having established that being a Viking wasn’t primarily about one’s origin, faith or race, we need to ask ourselves what defined a Viking besides the activities they partook in. This is where the Norse culture would have kicked in. Values held high among the Norse were naturally held high among those who set out on Viking expeditions. Vikings were after all sprung out of the conditions that reigned in Scandinavia of that day and age. The defining values we’re thus looking for are integrity, honor, loyalty, courage and wisdom. Something that also needs to be added to the list is ambition, which the Vikings must have been full of.
What is a modern Viking? Opinions might differ, but in our book it’s fully possible to identify with the Viking culture…even when scaling off the most obvious part – raiding. However, it’s not about being a reenactor, Scandinavian, or a person who believes in Odin and Thor. We consider anyone, regardless of nationality, religion or race, who lives life wisely and to the fullest a solid candidate. One who approaches the unknown with curiosity and faces hardships with courage. One who displays loyalty and honesty, and who values integrity and honor.
Those traits would have been a good start to gain respect among Vikings and make you one of them.