I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that as a Vikings fan. Most people think it's just a common, Scandanavian greeting...and it is. It can also translate into bowl, as in drink from a bowl. And although there are varying opinions on how 'skol' came to be a greeting, this is my most favorite one. Let's see how we can tie these two disparate meanings--(bowl and hello) together.
Back in the Middle Ages, rampaging bands of Vikings were roaming Europe and kicking the holy dog crap out of people. From Lindisfarme to France it didn't matter. For about 500 years, the boogeyman would check his closet before he went to bed to make sure there weren't any Vikings in it.
Anyway, at the end of the battle, Viking warriors would decapitate the king or leader of the tribe/army they had just vanquished and that night would drink from his skull--spelled skoll--as a sign of respect for the fallen opponent. It was only then, Viking warriors believed, could an opponent who had fought valiantly be allowed into Valhalla.
In battle, Vikings would urge each other forward by yelling "SKOLL" to one another. By doing so, they were telling each other to keep it up so they could drink from the skull (and the top of a lopped off skull looks roughly like a..wait for it...BOWL!!) of the Vanquished that night.
These days, it just is a way to urge each other on to victory in an American football game, but if you piss us off too much, we'll put Packer Nation's head on a metaphorical pole, parade it around, and then drink some Grain Belt from it, so keep one eye open, because the Vikings can go medieval on you in a heartbeat.
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So, at least mythologically speaking, both meanings originate from our Ancestors kicking the hell out of some poor sap who was the leader of some hopelessly pathetic tribe that dared to give us the finger.
I mean, think about it...after a hard day of rampaging, killing, and pillaging, you're beat. You're beat. Your shoulders ache from swinging a battle axe and crushing skulls, and you got blood and brains on your new wolf fur hoodie. All you want to do is sit around a campfire, drink some grog, and shoot the breeze with your buddies. You're too tired to strike up a conversation, and as a warrior, you don't gush over someone when you see that they're still alive, so you come up with simple, one or two word phrases that capture the essence of the moment.
Today, it's "dude".
Back then, as the skull of the poor chucklehead (who hours before was some minor bigshot) is passed around, all you have the energy to do is give a wry smile over to a fellow warrior and say....skol. One word conveyed it all.
So skol has evolved from a battle cry of warriors to a common salutation or toast to friends, which in a way, it always was.
Only under much different circumstances.
And if it is just a myth, as many claim, well, it's one hell of a myth, and until someone can prove to me they DIDN'T drink from the skull of a vanquished opponent, then By God, they did. Because until then, it's just opinion, and I like this side of the story a lot better, because it's totally badass.
"May we always drink from the skulls of our enemies!"