What Did the Vikings Do for Entertainment?

Vikings worked hard, but they also played hard, and in much the same way men do today, by playing ball, wrestling and holding competitions to display their strength and skillfulness. Many of their games were violent and often became bloody, sometimes resulting in death. They mainly served to show how "manly" a person was and showcased the competitors' strength and dexterity.

Vikings often tested their physical strength with stone-lifting competitions, which could be considered the equivalent of weightlifting today. One of the most popular ball games mentioned in Viking literature was called knattleikr and involved full body contact. Sometimes wooden bats, similar to those in baseball and cricket, were used. These ball games also ended violently.

Surprisingly, intellectual prowess was also regarded highly, and archaeologists have found many boards and game pieces from board games at many different Viking sites. Many Viking sagas have described people playing board games as nobles, and it has even been suggested that a prerequisite for becoming a king was being skilled at board games. Not so surprisingly, drinking games were also popular, with the Viking women often joining in on the fun. Finally, Vikings also enjoyed music, mummery (similar to a play) and miming,