Ţorrablot


Wanna know some about something wonderful you can try if you come to Iceland at wintertime (besides shiploads of snow and blizzards on a regular basis)?

This was written the after the annual Thorrablot (which is a common traditional midwinterfestival in Iceland) here in Fljot: I had so much fun that I couldn't turn on the computer yesterday, just did some chores like mucking out, milking etc., that doesn't need much brain-energy. In the old times we didn't use the regular months like january, february etc., instead there were other names like Skerpla, Gormanudur, Goa.

The month Thorri starts in the 13. week of winter, 19.-25. january. This is often the hardest winter month. So, in the last decades it has been traditional to have celebrations, Thorrablot (blot is the name of the old heathen "masses" in honour of the old gods), where people mix up old traditions and new traditions, and have generally a good time.

Individual traditions can be different in details between neighbourhoods or groups that are having the Thorrablot, but the blot here was wonderful as always. All day long we the women at Langhus were preparing the food that our group was going to eat in the evening.

Each farm has it's table in the house where the Thorrablot is held, and we just say in advance how many we are going to be (this is an invite-only celebration). Guests come from all over the country, relatives and people that once lived in Fljot stream to this fun evening. We end up being around 130 people (where everyone knew everyone), thereof 8 at our farm's table.

Two farms came on snow-scooters and changed clothes on the toilet, as there is much snow now. The food is prepared in a 3 feet long wooden trough. Each farm brings their trough to the house where we meet in advance, in the afternoon. That is easiest, as the food is cold anyway.

So what do we eat? We are eating what was normal day-to-day food for peple in the beginning of the century, and for ages before that. We are thinking back to the time where people had no refrigerators or freezers, and everything had to be either smoked, laid in mysa (a sour milk-product), salted, dried or kaestur (allowed to rot and defragment to a certain extent, untill the process stopped), and wheat was a scarsity.

The Thorra-food is thus very strong-tasting. A typical menu is:

Svid. Lamb-heads, black because they were "burnt" in live fire to get the hairs off the skin.

Flatkokur. Flat, thin rye-breads, eaten with butter.

Rofustappa. Mashed boiled sweetened vegetable-roots which I don't know the english name for.

Lundabaggar. Meat-rolls made of lambs-meat and soured in mysa.

Hrutspungar. Testicles soured in mysa.

Kartoflumus. Mashed sweetened potatoes.

Raudkal. Red cabbage of some sort (don't know the english name), boiled and sweetened.

Hakarl. Kaestur shark. In many countries shark eat men, in Iceland men eat shark.

Kotilettur. Lamb-t-bones, for the kids that can't eat the thorra-food.

Svidasulta. Lambs-heads, chopped down into almost a pate, soured in mysa.

Grisasulta. Pork-meat, chopped down into a pate. This is a modern innovation.

Hardfiskur. Dried fish, eaten with butter.

Blodmor. Blod-pudding boiled in lamb-stomachs, sown around the pudding (4-7 inches in diameter).

Lifrarpylsa. Pudding made out of lambs-liver.


With this we drink beer, red wine, coke or whatever, but later in the evening some drink the brennivin (spiced alcohol) with the shark.

I as usual am a sucker for the shark and the lambs-heads. Everyone in the house has bad breath after dinner, the shark has a rather strong odour. Many young people are in the house, alcohol is not sold in the house, even though you can take it with you, and 16 year old kids come to the Thorrablot here as the first dance with the grown-ups.

The house is filled with relatives and the kids have to behave and not drink too much, so it is a good celebration for them to "learn the rules".

After having eaten for a while, and laughed a lot, showtime starts. The people from the neighbourhood that organize the blot this year go on stage and tell funny stories about everyone (noone is left out, so noone is offended at becoming the laughing stock). Games are done, old songs are sung, and I get a bellyache from laughing so much.

The celebration started at 9 in the evening, at midnight the throughs are carried out in the cars, and the dance begins. Often there is a man with a harmonica, this year there is a man with a synthesizer and a singer. Soon there are 16-90 years old people dancing together, having fun, and the music isn't loud, so there are chatting people everywhere.

At 3 when the dance is stopping few people are in the mood to go home, exept the drivers. But that´s no wonder, they didn't drink, poor things. I almost had hestakaup with a neighbour, trading a 3 year old colt for 2 silver dapple foals, but desided to talk with him when I wasn't with so much beer in my head. The neighbour then said he had a very good horse he could trade with me. I asked him what horse? He said "I haven't really found out yet, but he is very good". We both smiled and I'll trade with him later. Instead I joined the singing, and after having song old songs for half an hour at last the drivers had in joined effort talked the jolly group into coming home. We talked for a while in the parking lot, the beer makes you not feel the cold and the drifting snow.

So, if you ever get a chance, don't miss a good Thorrablót!

Lukka.