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Fast and Feast – Christianization through the Regulation of Everyday Life

Fast and Feast – Christianization through the Regulation of Everyday Life


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Fast and Feast – Christianization through the Regulation of Everyday Life

Alexandra Sanmark

Viking Heritage Magazine: 4/2005, 3-7.

Abstract

An important part of rulers’ wish to create a Christian society was the introduction of Christian legislation. Through a comparative study of laws in different geographical areas it is clear that rulers and clerics from the early stages of conversion tried to enforce at least five Christian practices. These were the observance of fast and feast days, baptism, churchyard burial and Christian marriage regulations.

My article in the previous issue of Viking Heritage Magazine, which focused on the Christianization of Scandinavia, Anglo-Saxon England, Frisia and Saxony showed that rulers, together with clerics, formed the driving forces behind the official conversion of these areas. This article will illustrate that an important part of rulers’ wish to create a Christian society was the introduction of Christian legislation. Through a comparative study of laws in the different geographical areas it is clear that rulers and clerics from the early stages of conversion tried to enforce at least five Christian practices. These were the observance of fast and feast days, baptism, churchyard burial and Christian marriage regulations.

The earliest Norwegian laws

These five practices will be discussed through the ecclesiastical regulations in the earliest Norwegian provincial laws, i.e. the laws of the Gulathing, the Frostathing, the Borgarthing and the Eidsivathing. The dating of these laws has been discussed by many scholars, as the earliest complete manuscripts date from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Despite this, it is clear that they all contain regulations that derive from various time periods. The chapters that will be referred to in this article have been dated to the first 150 years of Christianity in Norway, i.e. c. 1020- 1150. It is important to remember that the laws contain the regulations that clerics tried to introduce. It is very difficult to establish how far they succeeded in actually enforcing them. It is however interesting to note that the laws include a detailed system aimed at making sure that the regulations were followed. As an example it can be mentioned that a priest was obliged to inform his parishioners of approaching fast and feast days. He should therefore send out a kind of wooden calendar on which all such days were marked. This calendar was then sent from farm to farm according to a pre-determined route.


Watch the video: How to Do A Daniel Fast (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Fodjour

    There are also other shortcomings

  2. Mac Adhaimh

    Thanks, can, I too can help you something?



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