Most Norsemen were farmers. On a farm, everyone worked, even kids. The soil was sandy and not very good for farming, so it took a lot of work to grow crops. The Vikings built their homes near water, both fresh water and seawater, because much of their food came from creeks and the sea. Boats were important, and time was spent as needed keeping boats watertight and safe. The men hunted as well as fished. The women gathered food, like berries and mushrooms. Food was also stored for use during the worst of the winter months.
The Vikings were clean and usually bathed at least once a week, even in the winter. They also believed in a clean house. Homes were simple, with little furniture, so cleaning was a relatively quick job for the women in the summer, done mostly with a broom and a dust rag. In the winter, however, the animals were brought inside at night to keep them safe and warm, unless the family had a separate barn. It took longer in the winter to keep their homes clean, not only to clean up after the animals, but also because they brought in dirt and snow from the outside when they shook off their boots or skiies or snowshoes. Still, to a Viking, a clean house was just as essential as a clean body and clean clothes. It was a job that had to be done.
There was no formal school that kids attended, but parents taught their kids. Boys learned how to farm, row, sail, hunt and fish. Girls were taught how to spin, weave, milk cows and goats, gather berries, and how to make colorful clothing with dyes, embroidery, and fancy stitches. If a parent had a specialized profession, such as a jewelry maker or blacksmith, they taught their children, both boys and girls, their craft during the long winter months.
As busy as they were each day, time was always put aside for some fun. Games of strength, agility, and quick thinking were ways the Vikings kept themselves strong. At night, Viking families gathered around the fire in the center of their home and told stories - wonderful stories of their gods and their victories - which helped to keep them proud.
Norsemen were social. They often got together with neighbors and friends to enjoy music, festivals, market days, and sporting events.
Each Norse village was run by a village chief or king, assisted by a council. There was also an assembly composed of all freemen in the village, who made laws and voted on the outcome of a trial. Rather than a religious leader, it was the Law, Viking law, that decided what people could and could not do. Everyone knew the law. The word "law" comes from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings.