The term for “White Christ” (White Christ) or Hvítakristr . entered into currency among the heathen pagan Icelanders in time and Christian religions were in conflict with each other a direct reference is made to this in Flateyjarbók : ” without your Thann Sid hafa, taka nafn af Theim Gudi, er their will Trua, er heitr Hvítakristr. “
That the Christian God was called Hvítakristr it was originally probably due to the fact that the newly baptized converts were required to wear white clothes ( i hvítaváðum ) during the first week after baptism.
The adjective hvítr when applied to Christ was not to describe their physical appearance. At a time in the development of Old Norse, the term was used of both sexes to designate someone who was blond and / or pale-complected.
However, the Viking Age, the term hvítr
had acquired a pejorative connotation. To call a man hvítr
was say he was cowardly, effeminate, and guilty of ArgR
. (See article on homosexuality among the Vikings
for more information on the term ArgR
and how it was related to the concept of cowardice by the Vikings). A related phrase was saying, “Your liver is white,” meaning once again, a coward … that is almost identical to modern English usage, “coward” with the same meaning. (Modern usage also uses “yellow” in this sense.)
In contrast to the peace-loving Hvítakristr , which was considered by a pagan warrior culture to be effeminate or cowardly, the Vikings revered his manly, virile god Red Thórr, red not only for its red beard and flashing red eyes, but also for blood pouring a warrior.
The conflict between pagan and Christian views crystallized around the dichotomy Hvítakristr and Red Thórr, becoming a recurring theme in events saga near the time of conversion, as in this poem
contempt for Steinunnn, mother Chorus Gestasson, describing how Thórr sank the ship from a Christian priest, Thangbrand, showing Steinunn Christ thus was the weakest God:
|Þórr Bra Þvinnils dýri
Þangbrands or Stad Longu,
hristi Bord beysti ok
ok bards Laust við Jordu;
munat skid hum SAE Sidan
sundfært Atals grundar,
hregg því in hart Tok leggja,
hanum kennt, í Spânu.
|[Thórr altered the course of Thangbrand
horse long Thvinnil 1 ,
he threw and hit
the board bow 2 and broke
it to solid ground;
the Atall bedding ski 3
shall not be later floating in the sea
as the gale disastrous caused by it all chipped in kindling.
|Braut fyrir bjollu gæti
(bond Raku val strandar)
móstalls vísund allan;
hlífðit Kristr, Tha er kneyfði
knorr, málfeta varrar;
Litt hygg ek in Gud Gaetti
hreins Gylfa in einu.
|The killer’s relatives’ ogresses 4
sprayed completely bison mew perch- 5
bell Guardian 6
(the gods chased the stallion chain 7 )
Christ did not take care of step sea tile 8
when the cargo-boat disintegrated;
I think God -kept
reindeer Gylfi 9 at all.
- long horse Thvinnil = ship Thangbrand
- Plank bow of the ship =
- floor Atall = sea, sea ski = ship
- kin ‘ogresses = giant, giant-killer = Thórr
- mew-perch = sea, bison March = ship
- guardian bell = the priest, ie Thangbrandr
- steed shed ship =
- tile step-sea ship =
- Reindeer Gylfi = ship
It was during this period of conflict between religions that Thórr hammer amulets, Mjollnir, the increase in popularity as ornaments, perhaps in response to Christians weraing the symbol of the cross. Jewellers were still hedging their bets by making foundry molds crosses and Thórr hammer simultaneously, as shown by this mold soapstone tenth century, found in Trendgården, Jutland, Denmark.
Other amulets were hybrids representing the cross and the hammer simultaneously as the silver pendant, found near Fossi Iceland, shown below.
The pejorative sense that was connected to hvitr was not associated with other words meaning white, including bjartr , “brilliant”, bleikr, “wan, pale” or ljóss , “light”.
This is a post from Celtic-Viking