According to the ancient Norse calendar, the fourth month of winter is called Þorri. In Iceland, the month of Þorri traditionally begins the last week of January on Bóndadagur, or Husband’s Day, and ends a month later on Konudagur, or Women’s Day. On these days, the whole family usually gives small gifts and a little pampering to show appreciation for the opposite sex. The month in between is remarkable especially for its food custom in which a blót is held, which is a festival held in honor of the Norse thunder god, Þor.
Because this time of year was historically a difficult time to survive and especially to grow food before refrigeration, greenhouses and the luxury of international commerce, the food was generally of the sour kind that had been preserved for the last few months, either underground or covered in salt.
The typical fare includes svíð, boiled sheep head in which the hair has been scorched off and all the parts, including tongue and eyes and teeth, are still very much in tact. As well, you can be expected to find lundabaggi, sheep’s testicles that have been pressed and cured and súrir hrútspungar, soured ram’s testicles that have been pickled in whey. You can also indulge in blóðmör or blood pudding, slátur or liver pudding, sviðasulta, a jelly made from the meat in a lamb’s head and hangikjót, or smoked lamb. Possibly the most palatable of all Þorramatur is harðfiskur, or air-dried fish that can be extremely tough to chew without a healthy slattering of Icelandic butter.
The most infamous of them all hákarl,or rotten shark, which has been cured and hung to drive for up to five months, leaving it edible and deliciously smelling of old pee and blue cheese. While there are many ways to prepare these foods, at a Þorrablót, all of them are served sour. However, since this is not palatable to some people, there are usually some more traditional options available such as whale steak, smoked salmon on rye bread and fish stew with potatoes and boiled turnips.
This tradition was lost after the Christianisation of Iceland but was revived again in Copenhagen in 1873, when the association of Icelandic Students gathered together to celebrate. It was not widely celebrated, however, until the 1960s when, out of some sort of countrywide nostalgia, a Reykjavik restaurant offered Þorrablót food. This coincided well with the nationalistic movement sweeping the country after its emancipation from Denmark in 1944. The Þorrablót is traditionally followed by the heavy drinking of a special seasonal brew of local beer and Brennivín, an anise-flavored schnapps, and the singing of traditional songs until the early hours of the morning.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.