Hávamál Study

Hávamál 3

Elds er þörf þeims inn er kominn
ok á kné kalinn. 
Matar ok váða er manni þörf, 
þeim er hefr um fjall farit. 
The one who just entered,
needs a warm fire.
His knees are frozen, warm and dry clothes will do him good,
after his long journey over the mountains.

Terryn Dave

Hávamál 3

Stanza 3 is fairly clear in its terms.
Where Stanza 2 still impatiently placed your guest at the door or on the threshold, Stanza 3 now puts the focus on once your guest has arrived.
In Stanza 3 you can again make a clear distinction between the old and modern times.
Stanza 3 is clearly about hospitality in the purest sense of the word.

Nowadays, your guest will most likely not have traveled over the mountains on foot or by horse to get to you, as I said in Stanza 2, our infrastructure has improved many times over and is more modern, but the word hospitality has not changed.
If your guest is cold and wet, let them warm up in your home.
Offer something to drink when thirsty, possibly a snack when hungry.
If for any reason his clothing is wet or damaged, give him replacement clothing or a warm blanket to cover while his clothes dry.
The same with children, their children are dirty from playing or due to an accident, offer them a place to freshen up their child, you can offer them clothes of your own children if you have these that they can return later or even keep it if you no longer need it.

When you accept a guest in your home, you take responsibility for the guest and his well-being, as it were. Make him feel welcome and safe.
Open your home to a certain extent for your visit. Show them where the plumbing is or where they can freshen up if necessary. In short, let them feel that they are also very welcome. Again pretty much the same as what I said at Stanza 2, receive your guests as you would like to be received.
If your visit includes children, provide some form of welcome for the child as well, which could be in the form of a candy or some toys, something to color.
All of this shows your guests that you are happy to see them.
If it’s an unannounced visit, do your best to make them feel welcome with what you have, as for the announced visit you can go even further. Find out what they like to eat and drink, maybe provide a small gift. If they can enjoy a certain type of alcohol, perhaps try offering this one.

Of course, all of this shouldn’t cost a lot of money, but show them that you really put effort and time into their arrival. Ultimately, time and effort are a hundred times more sustainable than money.
All these little gestures will not go unnoticed by your guests, and will not be quickly forgotten.
How you receive your guests is how they will look at you, by showing respect to who deserves this, you will regain respect, every action builds a bond that cannot be easily broken. Probably the roles have been reversed at some point and those who are now guests with you will be your host / hostess in the future. Then you may hope for the same reception.
If your visitors are coming from afar, you may want to pick them up at the airport instead of having them take a taxi.
If you have a guest room, you can offer them to stay the night if the weather gets bad or the time gets to late .
If you do not have a guest room, you can already look for alternative places to stay in the area so that they do not have to do this.
By showing them that honor, by making an effort, they will most likely quickly feel inclined to return this honor when the situation arises.
As you can see from stanzas 3 and many more to arrive stanzas, hospitality is highly regarded in Hávamál and is also somewhat tied to your own person and honor.

In short, make your guests feel that they are 100% welcome in every possible way when you let someone into your home.

Of course you do not have to do this with just anyone who rings at your door, such as the postman or salesmen or whoever, this is really about guests that you may or may not have invited but that you have confidence in.

All other translators clearly seem to agree with this stanza and their translations are all along the same line so no additional clarification is needed here.


Translations by other translators:

Elsa-Brita TitchenellMarcel Otten
Someone who comes in from the cold
needs heat;
The man needs food and drink
which comes in from the mountains.
He seeks the fire who entered
which is cold to his knees
the man must have food and clothes
that came over the mountains.

Auden en TaylorBellows
Fire is needed by the newcomer
Whose knees are frozen numb;
Meat and clean linen a man needs
Who has fared across the fells,
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.
He hath need of fire, who now is come,
numbed with cold to the knee;
food and clothing the wanderer craves
who has fared o’er the rimy fell.
Fire is needful for those who arrive
with cold knees.
Food and clothing is needful
to men who have fared over the fells.
The warmth seeketh who
hath wandered long
and is numb about the knees;
meat and dry clothes the man needeth
over the fells who hath fared.
There must be a fire for the frozen knees
of all arriving guests,
food and clothing for those who come
over the hills to your hall.
Fire is needful
to him who is come in,
and whose knees are frozen;
food and rainment a man requires,
who o’er the fell has travelled.


© The Honest Heathen 2020