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Þorrablót, the mid-winter festival in Iceland

Icelandic culture is one of the most interesting in Europe. If many countries from the continent have lost their old traditions, Icelanders are still having and celebrating some old Viking traditions and habits.  

One of those traditions is celebrating ​Þorrablót for about a month. This is the mid-winter festival that begins in mid-January (22nd) and ends in mid-February (20th).

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

The mid-winter celebration comes from the old Norse calendar from the month of Þorri. This celebration includes nowadays poetry, hearty food and drinks being unknown how the Icelandic ancestors have celebrated the mid-winter at the beginning. 

The name of the mid-winter celebration comes from the Þorri which many says is derived from the name of the Norwegian King Thorri Snærsson or the old Nordic religious God Thor the God of Thunder. The association between the name of Þorri and blót which translated means sacrifice shows why this celebration existed back in times. It was a pagan tradition, a “sacramental feast held in honour of a god in Norse mythology” (Wikipedia).

In Icelandic tradition, Þorri was portrayed as a powerful man with a merciless character epitome for the Icelandic winter. 

Photo by Michele Orallo on Unsplash

Þorrablót celebration is marked by two important days for Icelanders. The celebration starts at the beginning of the month of Þorri with Bóndadagur which is Icelandic Men’s Day and ends with Konudagur which is Icelandic Women’s Day and at the same time the beginning of the following month of Góa. 

Those two days are celebrated in the same way as International Men’s and Women’s Day, with little presents and affection shown to the partner or friend. 

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

The mid-winter celebration nowadays is about getting out from everyday life’s monotony, about celebrating the coming of spring and longer days. People are also celebrating this event to remind themselves about the good old days when they grew up.

There’s no celebration without food and Þorrablót is very known especially because of the Icelandic traditional food that is served in this period. During this celebration, people are eating þorramatur. And to keep this festival alive restaurants across the country have a special menu in this period and not only. The celebration of Þorrablót started to gain popularity in the 1960s from a restaurant in Reykjavik that introduced in their offer a platter with all those traditional foods. 

By The blanz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9380904
Photo By The blanz

þorramatur include the famous rotten shark’s meat (hákarl), boiled sheep’s head, (svið), cured rolls of lamb flank, congealed sheep’s blood wrapped in a ram’s stomach (blóðmör). It doesn’t sound so delicious for tourists but for your curiosity you can try those Icelandic delicacies. To not be shocked by the taste you can wash everything down with a shot of Brennivin, an Icelandic schnapps made locally from potatoes and caraway. 

Photo source: insider.com

If you are in Iceland during the Þorrablót celebration, you can check the local restaurants for trying the þorramatur and chat with locals about this Viking tradition. 

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