When I was growing up, Norse myths were one of my absolute favourite reads. We had an old, old book with a battered cover and dog-eared pages. In the front was a detailed drawing of the mythical tree, Yggdrasil, which I used to study intensely. The idea of a tree connecting different worlds boggled my mind. It was like a much cooler version of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. As a kid, I couldn’t resist climbing trees, hoping they’d lead somewhere exciting. To this day, I can’t walk past an impressive ancient tree without naming it Yggdrasil.
Not just that, but as an early lover of language and its origins, I was fascinated by the idea that supposedly mythical Norse gods once had enough influence to lend their names to days of the week. Odin (or Woden in Old English) for Wednesday, Thor for Thursday, and Freyja for Friday.
Add to this the humour and cleverness in the original Norse myths, especially from the mischievous trickster Loki (read more about cool tricksters here), and I was won over. My only regret is that the female characters don’t have more starring roles.
Norse Myths in Storytime
So far in Storytime, we’ve featured several Norse myths, including a few Thor stories. Back in Issue 3, one of my favourites, Thor’s Stolen Hammer – in which Thor is tricked by Loki into cross-dressing to retrieve his hammer from the giants. In Storytime 31, Thor ends up duelling with a giant with a stone skull. Odin also makes an appearance on an eight-legged horse. An eight-legged horse, I tell you! I was pleased to see that Marvel put this in their second Thor film. You can also read more of Thor’s adventures and find out how he got his hammer in Storytime Issue 47.
I suppose that brings me to the point of this blog. We hope that Marvel’s Thor films are encouraging more kids to read and enjoy Norse myths. We really do, because it would be a shame if all their knowledge of Thor and his crazy cohorts was limited to what they saw in the movies, as enjoyable as they can be.
Sometimes, you just can’t beat a good story in written form, so we’ll keep putting Norse myths in Storytime, because they deserve a place in our magazine.
We always put a few fun facts and activities in our Myths and Legends section too. However, I thought I’d put a few extra Thor facts here for you to share with your kids. Maybe it will entice them to really get into Norse myths.
5 Fun Facts about Thor
1. Thor had loads of other names, including Atli, which means ‘the terrible’; Ennilang, meaning ‘the one with the wide forehead’ and, coolest of all, Vingthor or ‘Battle Thor’!
2. It’s not just Thor’s hammer that has power. Thor also owns a special belt, which doubles his strength, and iron gloves, which he has to wear to handle his hammer.
3. His favourite form of transport was edible! Thor got around in a chariot pulled by two goats called ‘Teeth-snarler’ and ‘Teeth-grinder’. Every now and again, if he got hungry, he ate the goats and then brought them back to life.
4. Thor started a fashion craze – hammer pendants were the in thing among the Vikings, who loved their Norse gods.
5. Thor’s house was the biggest home ever built in Asgard and had 540 rooms! He lived there with his wife Sif and his daughter, Thrud (‘Strength’). He also has two sons called Modi (‘Brave’) and Magni (‘Strong’). There’s a definite theme here…
I reckon a good place to share these facts might be in the middle of the woods, when you’ve found a particularly fine Yggdrasil tree to climb.
If you’ve already got a passion for Norse myths (or myths from any culture), you might want to download our free Myths and Legends Resource Pack, which has loads of great activities and interesting information about myths, legends, gods, heroes and monsters. A grand way to spend your time.
Have a great Thors-day and enjoy sharing the magic of Norse myths with your kids!