In multicultural apocalyptics news, Norsemen around the world this weekend are celebrating the end of the world.
Saturday, February 22 marks the beginning of Ragnarok, the Norse festival of universal destruction. Ragnarok is the ultimate landmark in Viking mythology.
Excitement over the coming end of everything has been building among the Ragnarok faithful, known as Rokheads, ever since last summer’s Comic-Con, where a panel hosted by the wolf Fenrir, son of Loki, and Natalie Portman featured a 7-minute teaser for the upcoming apocalypse.
Overnight ratings soared for the annual broadcast of Dick Clark’s Ragnarokin’ Eve Special on ABC. The show broadcast included live coverage of the celebrations from York, New York, Stockholm, Asgard, Niflheim, and Las Vegas.
Crowds overflowed from Yggdrasil Square as people came to watch as Odin was lowered from the World Tree at midnight after nine days. The All-Father, positively beaming with wisdom and insight after being reborn, thanked the crowd (pictured above) for coming to watch the gods fall and die, and wished each of them a glorious death in the upcoming war.
Clark (seen here in a 2003 prison interview with the Fenris Wolf) told Ryan Seacrest that he was looking forward to taking up arms against an army of frost giants after spending the last two years being a dead hero in Valhalla.
Ragnarok is the biggest holiday of the year in Scandinavia, a land rich in stories and family traditions. Children in Denmark leave out cookies and milk on Ragnarok Eve, hoping that the Valkyries will bring them new edged weapons. Finnish parents encourage their young to eat all their vegetables, so they’ll grow up big and strong when the ice giants of Jotunheim come thundering over the horizon. And all along the fjords of Norway, families line the beaches on Ragnarok morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Midgard snake Jormungand as it rises from the sea to devour beachgoing Midgard snake-watchers.
Pre-Ragnarok sales have been sluggish this year. Vendors at the 30th JORVIK Viking Festival attributed this to the weather, although some said it was because Ragnarok came so late this year. “It’s rare to have Ragnarok on a weekend. Usually it falls on a Woden’s Day or a Thor’s Day,” said Festival director Danielle Daglan. “Still, we’re expecting the Earth will split open, so the area should be teeming with the inhabitants of Hel in the coming weeks. We’ll be open at 6AM Sunday for our big Day-After-Ragnarok Sale, so this really is an event that should not be underestimated!”
Swedish authorities said the crowds were mostly well-behaved and orderly, although they received a few complaints from residents. One Norseman, who requested anonymity because he played football in Minnesota, told reporters, “We live in the suburbs of Yggdrasil, and ever since Nidhogg showed up, it’s just been a constant stream of gnawing and moaning and wilting. How’s a Viking supposed to get any sleep?”
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