The Viking Heritage Behind The Minnesota Vikings

Football season has started and in Minnesota, generally, everyone is cheering for the Minnesota Vikings and hoping this is the year they will win the Super Bowl.

Here is some background on the Scandinavian flavor of the Vikings.

The Name

On January 28, 1960 Minnesota was awarded the 14th expansion team for the National Football League, with play to begin in 1961. As part of that agreement the team was to be a “Minnesota” team associated with the state not with a specific city. An article in the Minneapolis Tribune stated that several nicknames were suggested for the team, including “Chippewas,” “Miners,” “Vikings,” and “Voyageurs.”. The team was officially named the Minnesota Vikings on September 27, 1960; the name meant to reflect Minnesota’s place as a center of Scandinavian American culture. I’m sure it was also chosen also for the image of a macho Viking over other Scandinavian cultural icons such as the Minnesota Skiers, or Minnesota Knitters, or Minnesota Pickled Herring.

The Colors and Logo

The Vikings’ trademark horned helmet and purple-and-gold uniforms were designed by Los Angeles Examiner cartoonist Karl Hubenthal. Bert Rose, the general manager at the time, was an alumnus of the University of Washington and instructed Hubenthal to produce a uniform using the same colors as his alma mater. Hubenthal also composed the Vikings’ original Norseman logo. The team has retained the basic elements of all those designs to the present day – including the often commented on horns on the Viking mascot. We have previously done a blog about the fact that Vikings did not have horns on their helmets. You can read it here.

Viking Cookie Cutter

The Gjallarhorn

In Norse mythology the Gjallarhorn is known in Old Norse as the “yelling horn” or “the loud sounding horn. It is a horn associated with the god Heimdallr and the wise being Mímir.  According to the Minnesota Vikings page:

According to Norse mythology, the Gjallarhorn was sounded to announce the arrival of the gods. Since 2007, the Gjallarhorn has signaled THE VIKINGS ARE COMING and the start of a great battle on the gridiron. Sounding the Gjallarhorn is something only an honored few can lay claim to. To date, the following Honorary Vikings have been chosen for this ceremonial task.

You can find a list of those who have had this privilege here.

Yummy Viking Treats

Skål / Skol

Skol (as it is known in the Minnesota Viking world) is the team’s Viking war chant and comes from the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian word “Skål.” A Skål was a bowl that was often filled with beer and shared among friends so the word became a way of saying “cheers”, or “good health”, a salute or a toast, as to an admired person or group.

According to Erin Swartz of the Minnesota Vikings:

“Skol has been in our lexicon since the very beginning of the franchise in 1961,” Vikings Director of Brand and Creative Erin Swartz told WCCO in Minneapolis. “It was really like a Cheers! Vikings! We’ve scored, we’re celebrating, we’re winning.”

The Minnesota Viking’s official fight song is Skol Vikings:

Viktor the Viking

According to the Vikings website their mascot, Viktor the Viking, has a very interesting story:

January 28th, 960 AD marked the birth of one of the greatest Vikings to live in the Norseman Age. Some say he was kin to Thor, the Thunder God himself.  These rumors proved true once Thor bestowed the legendary war hammer, Mjolnir upon the young man.  Unfortunately, this Viking’s tale was lost amidst the breaking surf of the mighty Atlantic Ocean over a thousand years ago.  That is until 2007 when the mystery was finally revealed…

You can read Viktor’s entire bio here.

Ingebretsen’s loves Viking Heritage. Our store is guarded by Hagar, our own Viking. We carry a lot of Viking items that will give you and your home a true Viking feel.

For any of you who want to see some of the original Minnesota Vikings here is a video featuring the 1966 team: