If you have just celebrated Christmas day and New Year in Iceland then you better not leave yet. The merriment in Iceland doesn’t end in the holidays. Another celebration is coming up and this is one of the festivals in Iceland that you shouldn’t miss. It is the Thorrablot, Iceland’s midwinter feast.
The Thorrablot is a sacrificial midwinter festival. In the past, it was celebrated for the pagan gods of the Icelandic people. When Christianity was brought in the country, this festival was abolished. However, it was celebrated again in the 19th century and is treated as a midwinter celebration.
According to the old Icelandic calendar, the festival is being celebrated on the month of the Thorri. The name “Thorri” is believed to have been derived from the Norwegian king Thorri Snærsson or Thor, the god of thunder in the old Nordic religion. The celebration, which commemorates the Norse god of thunder, begins on the first Friday after January 19. This usually lasts until the month of February (last year it was until February 22).
The way Icelandic people celebrate their festivals has something to do with how these festivals are being celebrated in the past. In the case of Thorrablot, this was usually celebrated by the Vikings with singing, dancing, and with good food and drinks. The same thing has been practiced in the country. The people come together to celebrate this midwinter festival by singing, dancing, and drinking in merriment. What makes this celebration distinct is the kind of food prepared for this traditional feast.
Unusual food items are being served in the celebration of Thorrablot. For someone living outside Iceland and not used to its culture, these food items may appear to be somehow bizarre. For the Icelandic people, these are part of the staples of a midwinter celebration. Examples of these food items include the rotten shark’s meat, sheep’s blood wrapped in ram’s stomach, and boiled sheep’s head. These food items are usually flushed down with a traditional Icelandic drink, Brennivin. The latter is an unsweetened schnapps obtained from fermented grain or potato mash. It is often flavored with botanical ingredients such as cumin, caraway, and angelica.
Other than drinking and eating unique food items, the Thorrablot is also being celebrated with traditional Icelandic games, songs, and story-telling. The celebration often lasts until the wee hours in the morning.