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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Printed money envelope

Printed money envelope

Height: 102.000 mm
Width: 69.000 mm

CM 2005-2-20-15

The inscription on the diamonds at the top of this brightly coloured envelope says 'Happy New Year'. The character on the red decorative hanging is fu, 'good fortune'. It is presented upside down, to encourage the good fortune to pour out. This is similar to the English custom of placing a horseshoe with the open side facing down, in order that the good luck may spill out.

Two children beat out loud music surrounded by firecrackers and shining stars. When Chinese celebrations are going well, people talk about renao, the noisiness and excitement created by people getting together. Re means 'hot'; nao means 'hustle and bustle'. The Chinese character for nao is the character for 'market-place' inside a 'doorway'.

The sound of firecrackers exploding can be deafening at Chinese New Year. However, for safety reasons, they have been banned in big cities in China, such as Beijing, except at organised displays.