Submitted. In anticipation of the annual Optimist Family Fun Fair, we caught up with the staff at the MSA Museum. Christina Reid is an archaeologist and collections manager and the Museum’s resident Viking. She is a member of Reik Félag Norse Cultural Recreation Society, a group that re-enacts Norse cultural history from 792 to 1066 AD.
The Society’s members will raise their Viking trading village at the Trethewey House Heritage Site in the heart of Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 15th from 11 to 4 and participate in a fun-filled day of old fashioned games and activities for the whole family.
Reid tells us that the Vikings were the ancestors of current day’s Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and Icelanders. Most of the time, these people were farmers and merchants who sometimes partook in raids against people of other cultures. “They lived in violent times, and in many ways, they were not much different from other contemporary societies” says Reid. Many of the continental cultures had converted to Christianity, and in the process learned how to speak Latin (required for religious services) and how to use the Roman alphabet (to write down their own histories as well as copying religious texts). In the beginning of the Viking Age, the Norse had not yet converted and were using their own alphabet, runes, which Christian societies came to recognize as “evil stick letters” associated with witchcraft and barbarianism.
As a result, the Norse have gone down in the history books as one of bloodthirsty barbarians without much of a culture to celebrate, but the Reik Félag tries hard to show all sides of Norse life in their demonstrations and dispel some of the myths.
Reid tells us that Vikings had the same loves and passions as everyone else: “They farmed, fished, traded, made crafts, were metalworkers, parents and friends. They were perhaps the greatest ship-builders of their time and their skills in textile working were unparalleled on the continent”.
In the Reik Félag village, you will find smiths, weavers, woodworkers, toolmakers, spinners, scalds (storytellers), warriors, law speakers, merchants and traders – anything you need to go about life in the day of a Viking.
Reid shares that it is the Optimist Club of Abbotsford who sponsors this event, hosted by the MSA Museum Society. “The goal is to provide Abbotsford families with a free, fun filled and educational event to celebrat the beginning of summer. We will be visited by a theatrical troupe from Fort Langley National Historic Site along with other likeminded groups, and have planned many historically styled games and activities for young and old alike – and the Optimists will be here serving up hotdogs and drinks for all our visitors…what’s not to love?!”
The event runs from 11 to 4 at 2313 Ware Street in Abbotsford. You can find more information on the MSA Museum website.
Photography by Davina