A Viking Funeral

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A tradition of the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Club, the annual Viking Funeral was held last Saturday. Really just an excuse for adults to wear costumes and have yet another big piss-up, what happens at the funeral is that an effigy of a hairy, bearded dead Viking is hoisted aloft by a noisy entourage of beery Viking men, buxom wenches, fire dancers, Scottish bagpipe players in kilts and other strange, not-quite-historically-correct characters, and laid to rest on a dragon-headed barge anchored in shallow water in front of the yacht club.

History buffs and stuffy Scandinavian bores, beware, it’s not meant to be solemn or serious, or accurate. It’s not even meant to be Nordic. The ‘Viking’ inspiration for this event is more Hagar The Horrible than Leif Eriksson…and Hagar is more the mascot of Americans, Brits and Australians than he is of Norsemen. The first funeral took place because a Dinah Beach Club member had died and his rotten boat was on hand for burning. Just a silly party, leave your hemorrhoids and lousy sense of humor at home. 😉

In past years the local archery club—ranged along the banks of the inlet—fired flaming arrows at the petrol-soaked and fireworks-studded barge and (often after quite a lot of misses) one arrow would find its target, and the whole thing would go up in a conflagration worthy of Benares.

This year there was a total fire ban law in place, and although the club had applied for and received a special permit to set fire to the “longship”, the permit was revoked a few minutes before the effigy had been carried to the barge. Disbelief! Two hundred drunken spectators wandered back to the bar in disgust, and the dead Viking was left to float in the dark for a while.

Everyone was, of course, betting on some unofficial pyromaniacs to save the night, and sure enough, the petrol-soaked barge proved an irresistible magnet to some, who took it upon themselves to set it alight. Good on ’em.

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The rest of the night was spent dancing to a great blues band, standing in line at the bar for half-hour intervals, trying to buy a drink…

or warming themselves by the glow of the plywood barge as it slowly crumbled into a heap of coals on the dark water.
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18 thoughts on “A Viking Funeral

  1. I’m from Sweden and I fell a bit offended by this. Vikings didn’t look like that! For one thing they didn’t have horns on their helmets.


      1. rely sorry. got a bit carried way because historic costumes is a big interest of mine. I love your blog and your photos and texts is always inspiring.


        1. I didn’t think you were trolling, Jennie, 🙂 but I did mention Hagar the Horrible precisely because the costumes were so crappy. Not a problem, I can understand how plastic helmets with horns can make a craftsman and historical costume enthusiast groan, we are surrounded by the vulgarities of popular culture. Thank you for coming back, even so. I wish I could read yours, too! 😀 Will have to learn Swedish someday…


          1. My blog isn’t that interesting, so I don’t think you will miss out on anything. keep up the good work and I look forward to more great posts!


    1. Hey, thanks for re-posting, I’m delighted you enjoyed it so much. Funny is usually something that other people are, so I’m pretty chuffed you thought it was funny. I am to humorous writing what an enthusiastic 8 year old is with a harmonica…my brothers beg me to stop when I try to tell a joke.


      1. spreading the love…that was totally amusing! You are probably like me…I’m a little starched around the edges but for some reason people find my story telling amusing. I love your blog!


        1. And I’ve finally had time this afternoon to take a squizz at yours…beautiful, fine work, woman! My mum did some tatting—a brief fling—but the craft is beyond my mortal powers of concentration (not to mention cleanliness…by Day 3 my snowflake would be dirty brown, stained with coffee, and flecked with loose-leaf tobacco.) Will be following your blog with interest, now.


    1. After you’ve been to a few, it gets old, but I went this time because friends wanted to meet up. Best part of the evening, for me, started when I pulled out my camera and started looking, y’know, really looking, at the event, minus my slight boredom and “seen it before” bias.


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