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"Hail to the giver! | a guest has come;
Where shall the stranger sit?
Swift shall he be who, | with swords shall try
The proof of his might to make.

Fire he needs | who with frozen knees
Has come from the cold without;
Food and clothes | must the farer have,
The man from the mountains come.

Water and towels | and welcoming speech
Should he find who comes, to the feast;
If renown he would get, | and again be greeted,
Wisely and well must he act."


Odin gives sound advice regarding hospitality towards wanderers and wayfarers and sets down the rules of correct behaviour from guests in these lines from the ancient poem Hávamál (The Song of the High One [Odin]) .

In the sparsely populated lands of Scandinavia, filled with hard-to-traverse marshes, dense forests and steep gorges filled with underbrush, to show hospitality towards strangers was a must. Without the possibility to stay the night and rest one's weary feet, overland travel would have been hard, bordering on impossible.

But how to make such critically important customs flourish and multiply to the point that they are adapted by everyone? You cloak them in myth. This way, they are considered divine, eternal, and culturally indispensable. This is one of the primary functions of mythology, be it Norse, Greek or any other.

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