Have you ever wondered what the ancient Greeks or Scandinavians thought about the Aurora Borealis?
Even the Northern Lights can be really rare around the world, there are plenty of different myths and legends about them. This is a fact about the myths.
The name “Aurora Borealis” is actually derived from Greek words “Aurora” meaning “sunrise” and “Boreas” witch means “wind”. It was really rare for ancient Greeks to see the Northern LIghts, but as we know from our previous facts this is not something they were completely unheard of. The Greeks believed that the god Aurora was racing across the early morning sky in her multi-coloured chariot, when the Northern Lights were on the sky. Aurora was the sister of Helios, who was known as the god of Sun.
In the Europe the Northern Lights were widely held as a sign for something bad. It is quite rare to see the Aurora Borealis in the Middle or Southern Europe. The uncommonity is why Italians and the residents of France believed that Northern Lights are a omen heralding the outbreak of a war for example. It was common to think, that the Northern Lights can only be seen in the sky while something bad was going to happen. In Scotland and England the skies are said to have blazed red just a few weeks before the French Revolution.
Auroral sightings in China, Japan and Southeast Asia are quite rare as well. The lights could have been caused only by a significant solar event. In Chinese culture it was believed that the Northern Lights were caused by epic battles between different dragons. Good and evil dragons were breathing fire across the sky while fighting their celestial battle, and humans saw those lights as the Northern Lights. In Japan, Singapore and Malaysia the belief is that a child conceived underneath the Northern Lights will be blessed with good looks, intellect and good fortune. People from different corners of Asia viewed the lights very distinct ways, for some it was scary and confusing and for others it was something valuable.
North America was very sparsely populated and people had many different beliefs about what caused the Northern Lights. Some Inuit tribes believed that the Lights were torches held in the hands of Spirits seeking the souls of those who have just died, the spirits were to lead the souls over the abyss terminating the edge of the world. An Algonquin tribe has a myth that tells of the time when Nanahbozho, creator of the Earth, had finished his task of the creation, he traveled to the north and remained there. He then built large fires, of which the Northern Lights are the reflections. The lights are to remind his people that he still thinks of them.
There is a quite many different beliefs in Northa America, you can learn more from here!
Of course in Scandinavia there were many different beliefs about the Northern Lights as well. We already covered the Firefox -myth in our Northern Light Fact #2, you can read it from our blog. In Finland, some old folks also believed that you should stay quiet under the Northern Lights, or they will get mad and burn your hair. In Sweden it was held that the Aurora was a portent of good news. The light were seen as a reflection from large shoals of herring and bode well for the local fishermen and the Swedish farming community saw the lights as heralding a good harvest in the coming year. In Norse mythology one legend suggest that the lights were reflections from the shields of the Valkyrie, female warriors who would choose who may die in certain battle and who may live to see another day. Northern Lights were also believed to be a glowing bridge for fallen warriors from Earth to their final resting place in Valhalla.
Northern Lights can be seen everywhere if the solar activity is strong enough. And wherever the Lights are seen they confuse people and new legends about them are born. Every culture has their own myths. It would have been awesome to include every single Northern Light fact to this last Northern Light Fact -post, but there are simply too many. Still hungry for more about the history of Auroras? Don’t worry, we have a blog post about The History of Aurora Borealis! Also the Internet is full of myths, if you want to dive in and learn more about this mystical phenomenon.
This was the last Northern Light Fact, if you skipped one they are readable at our website. We hope that you have enjoyed all these facts and learned something new with us.
And of course we want to wish you a merry, merry Christmas!
There will be something new and exciting coming next year, stay tuned!
Sincerely and with best regards,