Listen to the extract from our story Sif's Golden Hair
It is around five minutes long. You can also read along with the text, and answer the questions at the end. The passage is about the ancient gods of Scandinavia in Northern Europe otherwise known as the "Norse" gods
What do Thursdays mean to you? They are not gloomy like Mondays, or glorious like Fridays, or lazy like Sundays…. They seem quite boring really, unless, that is, you know about Norse mythology. But once you have heard the stories of the Norse gods, you will realise that Thursdays are meant to be loud, thundero
us, stormy days, for they are named after Thor, the red-headed, hammer- yielding, thunder-clapping god of the Norse people.
Although Thor was a raucous fellow, he did, underneath it all, have one soft-spot – and that was for his beautiful wife, whose name was Sif, and whom he loved tenderly and dearly. She had long, thick wondrous golden hair, that flowed down her back like a field of corn. In fact, it was Sif who made the Norse people’s crops grow, and their fields yield long heavy ears of corn that would keep people well fed and happy. She travelled over the Northern world, and wherever there were families, farms and people tilling the land, Sif was sure to be near at hand smoothing their path against the cruel winds, cold and winters of the North.
Of course as every lady knows, beautiful hair does not take care of itself. She was very proud of her hair, and did not allow herself to have a bad hair day - especially as she knew she was not the only one who was very proud of her hair, Thor her husband was very proud of it too, and often boasted of it when he was drinking his mead to anyone who was around to listen. Morning, noon and night, Sif combed her wondrous hair with a jewelled comb, and she often washed in pure sparkling streams, and lay it out in the sun to dry on a rock. As you can imagine, with hair as thick as hers, it took quite a while to dry.
One day, while she was sitting on a bank of the softest moss outside her house in Asgard, where the gods live, drying her golden hair in the sun, Sif went to sleep. It’s easy to go to sleep in the sun when you’re not doing much. And it’s especially easy, if another god puts a spell on you so that nothing can wake you.
It was Loki, the god of fire and mischief, who cast this sleeping spell on Sif. He found her dozing with her gorgeous hair flowing all around her, and his evil mouth smiled at this chance to make trouble in the Thunder-God’s household. He knew that Sif’s hair of gold was Thor’s greatest treasure – and he was determined to take it away from him.
And while she was asleep, Loki took his shears and chopped off Sif’s hair, every single lovely lock! One by one they tumbled onto her shoulders and down her dress. Her head was bare, as if she’d had a haircut in the army or become a convict on a prison ship – the poor thing!
A while later, Sif woke up. Her head and neck felt cold and light, – she looked up and saw the sun was still shining. Then she felt for her hair, – there was nothing there! Looking down, she caught sight of the clusters of curls that lay all around her. Horrified, she rushed inside and burst into tears … and rain fell in bucketfuls on all the corn in the north, so the people asked “What in heaven’s happened to Sif?” She continued to cry and cry.
Describe how you feel about each of the days of the week.
What is the meanest trick that anyone has ever played on you? Describe it in writing, or discuss mean tricks in class.
If you could choose, what sort of hair would you like to have? Thick, long, dark, blond, curly, short, neat, straight...?
Few people believe in the Norse gods these days - but why do you think we find their stories so appealing? Do we relate to their characters? Do we like the explanations they give for things like the weather? Do they shed light on our own beliefs? Or do we just find them funny? Write down your thoughts or discuss in class.