Fallback Icon

Company Culture

Yes, Virginia, there is an Odin

By: Jessica Lizza

Most of us know the story of Santa Clause. He’s a jolly guy with a soft white beard and he loves dressing in red, almost as much as he likes bringing happiness to children. And adults. Don’t judge. But, that’s probably all you know. And you’ve probably heard the same few stories over and over again.

Well, at Tallwave, we never take things at face value and we’re always looking to innovate the stories our clients tell. We strive to break out of the pack, and we didn’t want to give you a holiday story that didn’t live up to that. So, we took a page from our research department and decided to take a deep dive into who he is and where he came from. It’s exciting and surprising but, who doesn’t enjoy a little Norse mythology around the holidays?

What does Odin have to do with it?

Have you heard of the Nordic god Odin? You probably know him from the wildly popular Thor movies, but he was much more than that. According to lore, he was the king of Asgard, he was missing an eye, voluntarily—don’t worry, and the Norse men’s goal was to die in battle and feast in his halls of Valhalla. Sounds legit.

Oh, and around Yule he would take flight on his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, and scare anyone that was out of their homes at night. After all, this was the time of year that the veil between the living and dead was at its thinnest and it gave Odin and his crew, (consisting of Valkyries and other gods and ghosts) free rein during the Wild Hunt.

But, it wasn’t all bad. So long as you were inside your home in the evening Odin and his friends didn’t really bother you. In fact, it was commonplace for children to leave their boots out with treats for Sleipnir and be returned with small gifts and candy. Sound Familiar?

Jolly Ole’ St. Nicolas

Let’s recount the facts. We see Santa at the mall every year. He inspires joy in the hearts of children and maybe some happy tears in adults. Again, stop judging. We know he keeps an eye on who’s naughty and nice throughout the year and he also lives in the North Pole with his band of hard-working elves making toys. Well, the elves are making the toys, no one actually knows what he’s doing the rest of the year…

On Christmas Eve, Santa takes to the skies in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, and occasionally some stories talk about Rudolph leading the pack. Plus, believe it or not, before Coca-Cola reinvented his appearance in the 1930s Santa was depicted as a tall, somewhat thin, bearded man who resembled a traveler. Wasn’t there someone else that resembled a traveler? Maybe someone with one eye?

Striking Similarities

Odin may be best known for being the Nordic god of war, but he was also revered for his wisdom. Remember that eye he gave up voluntarily? Between that and his constant traveling through the 9 worlds, he was the most knowledgeable god in all of Asgard.

Well, if you go back far enough, Santa symbolized a lot more than gift giving and the spirit of Christmas. The winter time was always a hardship. Before electricity and grocery stores people had to work hard to make it through the winter and Santa was a symbol of protection, abundance, generosity, and joy. All things the well-known god of war was known for. On account of that wisdom.

Not enough for you?

How about those boots Odin left gifts in? What is it that’s hung from the mantle with care? Oh, that’s right, stockings...in the shape of boots. That sled Santa travels the skies in is pulled by eight reindeer has a striking resemblance to Odin’s trusty eight-legged steed Sleipnir. Some stories will even tell you about his red nose, stained by the entrails of Odin’s enemies. It’s true, the stories of Rudolph are definitely more palatable.

If that still hasn’t got you thinking outside the box, Norse mythology talks about the dwarves and elves who make wonderful things, like weapons for the gods. Santa’s elves make wonderful toys for children on behalf of him, same went for Odin’s.

It’s well known that cultures borrow stories from each other, often times they change things around just enough so that you can’t relate them back. In this case, cultures and popular advertisement innovated the narrative around what we know as the modern day Santa compared to that of what the Norse men knew.

Does it make it bad? No. After all, if you’re not innovating you’re dying.

At Tallwave we enjoy digging into our client’s stories and finding out exactly how to market to their ideal customer. They figured it out with Santa as the new form of Odin, appealing to people that weren’t Vikings and living for war and Valhalla.

Are you ready to deep dive into your organization to find out how to market to your ideal customer? We’ll share our wisdom, but we’ll let you keep your eye.

If we don’t have you convinced, take some time to check out our resources below.

https://www.norwegianamerican.com/featured/dont-take-odin-out-of-yule/

https://sonsofvikings.com/blogs/history/viking-origins-of-christmas-yule-traditions

Written by Jessica Lizza

    Want more?

    Get extra insight with our newsletter.

    In the media

    We’ve shared our secrets with…

    Inc Entrepreneaur Press & Media