Thor is dressed as a bride, by Marten Eskil Winge, 1865

Heimdall Suggests a Bridal Gown for Thor

One of the most enduringly popular stories of the Poetic Edda is the tale of Thor and Thrym, where the giant steals Thor’s hammer, and Thor retrieves it by dressing as Freyja and fooling Thrym into thinking a wedding was imminent. The story’s popularity hinges on audiences laughing at Thor in a wedding dress, but it’s significant for more than just humor. It helps us see gender roles from the point of view of the woman, Freyja, who has the power to reject the idea that she wed the giant Thrym. We see how Thor thinks all the gods would think it “unmanly” for him to dress as a woman. And Loki decides to dress as Thor/Freyja’s maid, unprompted. In the end, as Mjolnir is taken out to bless the marriage, Thor takes it back and kills all the giants in attendance.

I’m just sharing the middle of the poem here, focusing on the decision for how to handle the theft of the hammer, but you can skip to the whole story whenever you like.

Loki spake:
I0. “Trouble I have, | and tidings as well:
Thrym, king of the giants, | keeps thy hammer,
And back again | shall no man bring it
If Freyja he wins not | to be his wife.”

11. Freyja the fair | then went they to find
Hear now the speech | that first he spake:
“Bind on, Freyja, | the bridal veil,
For we two must haste | to the giants’ home.”

12. Wrathful was Freyja, | and fiercely she snorted,
And the dwelling great | of the gods was shaken,
And burst was the mighty | Brisings’ necklace:
“Most lustful indeed | should I look to all
If I journeyed with thee | to the giants’ home.”

13. Then were the gods | together met,
And the goddesses came | and council held,
And the far-famed ones | a plan would find,
How they might Hlorrithi’s | hammer win.

14. Then Heimdall spake, | whitest of the gods,
Like the Wanes he knew | the future well:
“Bind we on Thor | the bridal veil,
Let him bear the mighty | Brisings’ necklace;

15. “Keys around him | let there rattle,
And down to his knees | hang woman’s dress;
With gems full broad | upon his breast,
And a pretty cap | to crown his head.”

16. Then Thor the mighty | his answer made:
“Me would the gods | unmanly call
If I let bind | the bridal veil.”

17. Then Loki spake, | the son of Laufey:
“Be silent, Thor, | and speak not thus;
Else will the giants | in Asgarth dwell
If thy hammer is brought not | home to thee.”

8. Then bound they on Thor | the bridal veil,
And next the mighty | Brisings’ necklace.

19. Keys around him | let they rattle,
And down to his knees | hung woman’s dress;
With gems full broad | upon his breast,
And a pretty cap | to crown his head.

20. Then Loki spake, | the son of Laufey:
“As thy maid-servant thither | I go with thee;
We two shall haste | to the giants’ home.”

"Tor såsom Freya, Loke brudtärna" by Carl Larsson and Gunnar Forssell, published in Fredrik Sander's 1893 edition of the Poetic Edda.
“Tor såsom Freya, Loke brudtärna” by Carl Larsson and Gunnar Forssell, published in Fredrik Sander’s 1893 edition of the Poetic Edda.
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One comment on “Heimdall Suggests a Bridal Gown for Thor

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