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ARUN RATH, HOST:

And just a note now as we look toward the week ahead, according to some scholars, the world will come to an end this Saturday. Ragnarok is upon us.

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RATH: Ragnarok, the coming Viking apocalypse. It's been prophesied in Norse mythology. The gods will do battle - Thor, Loki, Odin, all of them. The Earth will fall into the sea and everything we know will cease to be. The legend of Ragnarok has inspired everything from the Eddic poetry of the 13th century to Richard Wagner's "Gotterdammerung" and, of course, death metal.

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RATH: Danielle Daglan says the 100 days of Ragnarok started back in November, and it's coming to its logical conclusion this coming Saturday, which happens to be the end of the JORVIK Viking Festival she runs in York, England. According to Daglan, the first Earthly signs of Ragnarok are three consecutive punishing winters.

DANIELLE DAGLAN: The winter of winters is to grip and (unintelligible) the Earth.

RATH: That sounds about right.

DAGLAN: There are three cocks that crow in different realms and alert the gods and the demons and the warriors to the oncoming battle to end all battles.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (As character) (Unintelligible) is madness.

RATH: The cast of characters is too detailed to mention here. Suffice it to say, it doesn't end well for us.

DAGLAN: And so we'll see giants roaming the land, Fenrir the wolf will break free from his chains. Fenrir kills Oden, who is of course the leader of the fighting gods.

RATH: Is that the same wolf who's going to eat the sun?

DAGLAN: No. Actually, that's his brother that eats the sun.

RATH: Different wolf, sorry.

DAGLAN: Yeah. Yeah, there are a number of characters.

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RATH: Ragnarok leaves the Earth shattered and consumed by fire and floods. In the end, Danielle Daglan says, nothing will remain for us.

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RATH: But we can't go with just one source about the annihilation of the human race on Saturday. That's kind of a big story. We also checked in with Gisli Sigurosson. He heads the folklore department at the University of Iceland.

GISLI SEGUROSSON: There is nothing in our sources to indicate that any of this is upon us now. This seems to be the result of marketing policy in the Viking center in York.

RATH: So this February 22 date is kind of pulled out of the air?

SEGUROSSON: No. It's the last day of the festival, so they're just going to have a big party at the end of it.

RATH: It does seem like a great excuse to have a feast and listen to some Wagner.

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RATH: This is NPR News.

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