I find the focus on contest in Norse mythology very interesting. I think that it reflects a society which was very competitive. I think that the Norse would have constantly been competing with each other, to see who could be the smartest, or the best warrior, the best farmer etc… Some competition can be explained by the desire to obtain a higher rank or standing in a society which highly valued qualities such as strength, bravery, and intelligence and prestige seemed to be very important.
It occurred to me though that such competition likely also arose of of necessity. Perhaps resources were limited, and they had to compete in order to gain the best land or supplies.
They would no doubt have competed for the favour of thier lord/chieftain — common to many hierarchical societies, but perhaps stronger here.
It seems that the focus on competition in Norse mythology is so strong it must have played an important role in their society.