Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Thorrablót!

So, tonight I'm going to celebrate Thorrablót by honoring the god Thor and consuming what remains of the Yuletide eats and drinks.

The Þorrablót is actually a modern festival that started out in the mid-1800s when a group of Icelandic students in Copenhagen got all excited about Icelandic nationalism and held a dinner party honoring their country's traditional foods and customs. They also honored Thor, probably because his name sounded kind of like Thorrablót.  The festival later became popular throughout all Iceland by the mid-twentieth century and is still celebrated today. Some modern followers of Asatru also celebrate the holiday in honor of Thor.

It got its name from the historical Icelandic calendar name for the month of Þorri, which covered the period from mid-January to mid-February.  The Orkneyinga saga mentions a legendary Norwegian king named Þorri ("frost"), the son of Snær ("snow"). Other sources claim that the Kvens (a Finnish population in northern Norway) celebrated a yearly sacrifice at mid-winter.

However, sadly, etymologically the name Þorrablót has nothing to do with the Norse god Þórr, despite the similarity in their names. And it was never a truly ancient, traditional Heathen festival. So all the modern celebrations are non-traditional.

 If you really want to celebrate in the traditional Icelandic manner, folklore has it that on the first morning of the month of Þorri, the head of the house would go outside in the cold only partially dressed: barefoot, dressed in only his shirt, and partly barelegged (one trouser-leg went on his leg, while the other trouser-leg dragged on the ground). He then proceeded to hop on one leg all around his house and bid Þorri welcome to his home.  (Then his wife treated him specially nice the rest of the day, which is also known as Bóndadagur, or "Husband's Day").

Then you can feast on such traditional Icelandic treats as hákarl (rotten shark's meat), svið (boiled sheeps head), blóðmör (congealed sheep's blood wrapped in a ram's stomach), or súrsaðir hrútspungar (the testicles of rams pressed in blocks, boiled and cured in lactic acid), along with a healthy draught of Brennivin (a type of Icelandic aquavit also known as Black Death--you'll need it to wash down all that food).

But it's winter, and it's cold and wet, and all the fun of Yule and my birthday are over, and I really have to get seriously back to work now, and hey, I need a festival. And Thor is just fun, you know? So, here's to pork and beer, here's to Thor, and a big Texas welcome to Þorri!!