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".


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 or not 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 cultureEdit

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

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

See alsoEdit


  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 sourcesEdit

  • 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