Icelands bóndadagur and the midwinter feast Þorri

Bóndadagur can be translated into either farmer’s day or husband’s day
January 29, 2019
Inga Rós Antoníusdóttir

Bóndadagur marks the first day of Þorri, a date from the Old Iceland Calendar which is celebrated in Iceland annually.  Þorri also marks mid winter! No wonder we celebrate!

Bóndadagur can be translated into either farmer’s day or husband’s day as the word “bóndi” covers both meanings in Icelandic. Bóndadagur and therefore Þorri always starts on a friday in the 13th week of winter any time from 19. to the 25 of january each year..

In Iceland men dressed only in shirt and one trouser

On the morning of "Bóndadagur", which always falls on a Friday, the man of the house, is supposed to welcome Þorri by going outside only dressed only in his shirt and wearing just one trouser leg, dragging the other behind him.  Once outdoors he shall jump around his house on one leg, bidding Þorri welcome to his house. To make this day easier on their husbands, wives were supposed to be especially attentive on this day. In modern times women usually treat their spouses to something nice, like a favorite meal, flowers or a few beer.

The Icelandic pegan Þorrablót is still popular in modern times

Þorri is also the time for “Þorrablót” (Sacrifice Feast) as known from the Sagas and was most likely a midwinter celebration during pagan times. Þorri often appears in literature as the personification of winter. A strong figure of authority, an ancient hero or a noble Viking warrior. Usually cruel and harsh. Þorrablóts are still popular in modern times and for the younger generations it is also the only time of year where they consume a traditional old Icelandic winter die. “Þorramatur” (food of Thorri) includes but is not limited to smoked, pickled, salted and dried food such as svið or sviðasulta (lambs head), hangikjöt (hanged meat), hrútspungar (ram testicles), Slátur of blóðmör (blood sausage or blood pudding) and lifrarpylsa (ground liver), hákarl (cured fermented shark), rye bread, harðfiskur (dried fish) and many more traditional Icelandic food. All of this gets washed down with bottle of brennivín of course (Icelandic schnapps also called black death).  The festivities can be quite wild with singing, dancing and drinking until the late hours…..

You’ll also find most of these delicacies for sale at local grocery stores, with many restaurants offering a specific Thorrablót feast menu or buffet.

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