In Depth

Ragnarok: will the world end in Viking apocalypse tomorrow?

Earth predicted to split open and release the inhabitants of the underworld before epic battle

THE end of the world is nigh, according to Viking experts, who believe the final mystical battle on Earth might begin on 22 February 2014. It follows a string of similar disaster predictions, including the Mayan Apocalypse, in which the dark planet Nibiru failed to knock Earth out of the sky on 21 December 2012. So what is Ragnarok and should we be concerned?

What does Ragnarok mean?

It is an Old Norse word made up of "ragna", which means conjure, and "rok", which can mean origin, cause or fate. As a whole, it is usually interpreted as the "final destiny of the gods".

What happens in Ragnarok?

Norse mythology predicts the Earth will split open and release the inhabitants of the underworld, culminating in an epic battle. First comes three consecutive winters, with no summers inbetween, followed by a general decline in morality. Wolves will devour the sun and moon, plunging the earth into darkness, stars will vanish from the sky and a cockerel will "raise the dead". Earthquakes will release the terrible wolf Fenrir, snakes will rise from the sea and the inhabitants of hell will ride in on a ship for a titanic battle among the gods, men and other creatures. Odin, the father of the gods, will be killed by Fenrir, Earth will fall into the sea, and life as we know it will cease to exist.

On the plus side, a new and idyllic world will then arise, where wickedness and misery no longer exist.

Who predicted Ragnarok?

The apocalypse was described in the 13th century book Prose Edda, believed to have been written by Snorri Sturluson in Iceland. Together with the Poetic Edda, it comprises the major store of pagan Scandinavian mythology. However, the origin of the apocalypse date is dubious. It has been predicted by experts in Norse mythology from the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, who admit their calculations are not "scientific". The 22 February is the end of the Nordic feast of Jolablot, marking the end of winter, they say.

Sceptics have noted that this does not explain why 2014 would be Earth's final year and note that 22 February curiously coincides with the centre's annual Viking Festival.

So, will the earth end tomorrow?

As The Independent says, don't cancel your weekend plans just yet.

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