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Thorrablot - Iceland's Midwinter Feast

Learn about Iceland's midwinter feast "Thorrablot"...


Thorrablot / Þorrablót, the Midwinter Feast in Iceland (Reykjavik)

Thorrablot / Þorrablót, the Midwinter Feast in Iceland (Reykjavik)

Nik Whitehead

The midwinter feast Thorrablot in Iceland is held at any time during the month of Þorri, which begins on the first Friday after January 19th (the 13th week of winter) in Iceland.

Thorrablot (in Icelandic: Þorrablót) takes place in the coldest dark days of the year, and it's interesting to keep in mind that many of the foods served are actually the smoked/pickled produce of the previous year. It is a Scandinavian tradition with lots of viking history.

The Thorrablot celebration starts with dinner. For the midwinter feast, Icelanders serve what was normal day-to-day food for Vikings, and turn back to nature-made food that is smoked, laid in mysa (a sour milk-product), salted, dried or kaestur (rotting and setting meat). Thorrablot isn't for queasy stomachs.

Sample plate in photo:

  1. Hákarl (putrefied shark)
  2. Blóðmör (filled sausage/black pudding)
  3. Hrútspungur (ram's scrotum with testicles)
  4. Lundabaggi (sheep's fat)
  5. Svinasulta (jellied ham)
  6. Svið (jellied sheep's head)
  7. Harðfiskur (bread spread made of fish)
  8. Hangikjot (smoked lamb)
After the Thorrablot dinner, don't be surprised at people's bad breath (blame the menu)! Get ready for group games and old songs and stories, accompanied by Brennivin (Iceland's strong schnapps). It'll definitely get that rotten meat taste out of your mouth.

Later in the evening, dances start and often continue until the early morning when Thorrablot celebrations draw to an end.

To learn more about many other traditions and customs, go back to Annual Events & Traditions in Scandinavia.

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