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In Norse mythology, Fimbulvetr (or fimbulvinter), commonly rendered in English as Fimbulwinter, is the immediate prelude to the events of Ragnarök. It means "great winter". In Old English it is pronounced as Fifelwinter.


Fimbulwinter is the harsh winter that precedes the end of the world and puts an end to all life on Earth. Fimbulwinter is three successive winters, when snow comes in from all directions, without any intervening summer. Then, there will be innumerable wars.

The event is described primarily in the Poetic Edda. In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, Odin poses the question to Vafþrúðnir as to who of mankind will survive the Fimbulwinter. Vafþrúðnir responds that Líf and Lífþrasir will survive and that they will live in the forest of Hoddmímis holt.

The mythology might be related to the extreme weather events of 535–536, which resulted in a notable drop in temperature across northern Europe. There have also been several popular ideas about whether the particular piece of mythology has a connection to the climate change that occurred in the Nordic countries at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age from about 650 BC. Before that climate change, the Nordic countries were considerably warmer.[1]

In Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other Nordic countries, the term fimbulvinter is still used to refer to an unusually cold and harsh winter.[2]


Fimbulvetr comes from Old Norse, meaning "awful, great winter." The prefix "fimbul" means "the great/big" so the correct interpretation of the word is "the great winter."[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The strategy videogame Age of Mythology gives the Fimbulwinter God Power to Norse players that chose Tyr as their minor god in the Mythic Age. This power summons groups of powerful Fimbulwinter Wolves in up to four enemy town centers, who will start to attack the buildings and units around them. While Fimbulwinter is active, no other God Powers can be used.

In the 2008 MMORPG Wizard101, the Fimbulvetr was adapted to "Everwinter" for the 2011 Wintertusk expansion to Grizzleheim, a world heavily based on Nordic culture and mythology. In the game, players must stop the Coven from awaking Ymir and causing the end of the world.

In Bayonetta 2, Fimbulventr is the name of a mountain which hides entrances to Inferno and Paradiso.

In the 2013 game Tower of Saviors, Fimbulwinter is a title of the complete is all monster from Norse Gods - Power Release series.

In the tactical strategy RPG series Fire Emblem, there is a magical tome that goes by Fimbulvetr within many of the games.

In the 2018 game God of War, Fimbulwinter occurs a century earlier than it was supposed to.

In the 2018 game Frostpunk, the citizens of the frozen wasteland have turned away from Christianity in favor of the old gods, believing the apocalypse to be Fimbulwinter proceeding Ragnarok.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ström, Folke: Nordisk Hedendom, Studentlitteratur, Lund 2005, ISBN 91-44-00551-2 (first published 1961) among others, refer to the climate change theory.
  2. ^ a b Svenska Akademiens Ordbok, entry for Fimbulvinter [1]

Other sources[edit]

  • Gunn, Joel (2000). The Years Without Summer: Tracing A.D. 536 and its Aftermath (British Archaeological Reports International. Oxford, England: Archaeopress) ISBN 1-84171-074-1
  • Keys, David Patrick (2000). Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World. (New York: Ballantine Pub) ISBN 0-345-40876-4.
  • Larrington, Carolyne (Trans.) (1999). The Poetic Edda (Oxford World's Classics) ISBN 0-19-283946-2
  • Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs (Oxford University Press) ISBN 0-19-515382-0
  • Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend (Cassell) ISBN 0-304-34520-2