MinnPost: U of M reissues Sigrid Undset’s Norwegian tales
Before Thor hung out with the Hulk and Iron Man, he starred in a blockbuster series of Norwegian folk tales that nearly every child in Norway, from the Viking era onward, knows. But Thor is not just an entertaining figure in Norse mythology, he’s a keeper of Norwegian identity. Over the centuries, as Norway endured occupations by other nations and cultures, its people hung onto Thor and other figures as an emblem of their own, distinct heritage.
During the Christianization of Norway, images of Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, were worn on clothing or hung on doors as a sign that its owners were holding on to their native belief systems. Scandinavian pagans continue to use Mjölnir as a symbol; in May 2013, the Veteran’s Administration approved Thor’s hammer for use on official headstones and grave markers. The Thor stories are only a part of Norway’s folklore tradition, but the importance of folklore to Norway’s identity in the world is much greater.