Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

The great mid-winter feast named Þorrablót, in honour of the Nordic god of thunder

By Sara McMahon

  • Local delicatessen Some of the dishes served on Þorri might not sound very appetising, but Icelanders vehemently maintain that they’re guaranteed to put hairs on your chest. Photo/Pjetur

Bóndadagur, the first day of the month of Þorri, is celebrated on Friday, 22 January.

 

Þorri is the fourth month of winter, according to the ancient Norse calendar, and began on a Friday between the 19th and 25th of January. In pre-Christian times Icelanders would celebrate Þorri with a great mid-winter feast named Þorrablót, in honour of the Nordic god of thunder, Þór. The tradition was lost soon after Icelanders converted to Christianity.  

During Iceland‘s struggle for independence from Denmark in the 19th century, young Icelanders studying in Copenhagen decided to revive the old custom of Þorrablót. The first modern Þorri feast took place in the Danish capital on January 24th 1873.

The year after, the inhabitants of Akureyri, a town in north Iceland, decided to follow suit. From there the custom spread throughout the country. By the 1960’s Þorrablót had become a popular part of Icelandic tradition and is still widely celebrated each year.

Greeting Þorri dressed in one pant-leg

There are many old, traditions linked to the month of Þorri, the master of the house, for instance, was supposed to rise before the rest of the household and welcome Þorri with a special ceremony.

He was to exit the house, wearing only his shirt and dressed in one pant-leg, and then hop around the house on one foot, all the while dragging the other pant-leg behind him. After these strange schenanigans a large feast was organized with people from neighbouring farms in attendance. However, it’s unknown whether this tradition was widely practiced.

By other accounts Þorri was to be greeted by the housewife, while the master of the house was to welcome the month of Góa (the fifth month of winter that began on a Sunday between the 18th and 24th of February).

Read more: Want to know what you are eating at an Icelandic Þorrablót? Here's your answer!

Below is a video from CCP explaining Þorrablót: 

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