Child abandonment as an indicator of Christianization in the Nordic countries

  • Juha Pentikäinen
Keywords: Christianity, Scandinavia, Missions -- Scandinavia, Finno-Ugrians, Norse religion, Icelandic and Old Norse literature, Sagas, Kalevala, Child abuse, Infanticide

Abstract

In the Nordic countries, child abandonment seems to have been a commonly accepted social tradition until the acceptance of Christianity. When Christian influences reached the Far North, this old practice was gradually criminalized. When the old practice was criminalized by Christian sanctions and norms, the abandoned, murdered or aborted unbaptized children were experienced supernaturally. Their supranormal manifestations are described in Nordic folk beliefs and narratives concerning dead children; in Old Norse sagas, Swedish and Norwegian provincial and ecclesiastical laws and in Finnish runic poetry, all stemming from the Middle Ages.
How to Cite
Pentikäinen, J. (1990). Child abandonment as an indicator of Christianization in the Nordic countries. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 13, 72-91. https://doi.org/10.30674/scripta.67174