Thorramatur - food fit for a Viking

January’s Mid-Winter Feast Thorrablot: Not for Faint of Heart or Stomach

In the evening before the first day of Thorri, the fourth month in the Viking calendar, the woman of the house would open her doors and invite Thorri in. Thorri is suspected to be the Norwegian or Finnish King Thorri Snærsson, which translates into Frost, son of Snow. Thorrablot, a midwinter’s feast, may be celebrated any time during the month. The holiday practically disappeared as the Vikings adopted Christianity and left paganism behind. However, a group of 19th-century Icelandic students resurrected the feast, and Iceland embraced the celebration after World War II when nationalist feelings were on the rise. Nowadays, many people associate the feast with Thor, the god of Thunder.

What’s on the Thorrablot Menu?

The Vikings would pull out all the stops for this feast. On the menu, you could find rotten shark, pickled ram testicles, dung-smoked lamb, wind-dried whitefish, and meat jelly made from the heads of sheep. These traditional foods are called “thorramatur.” You can still try many of these traditional foods during the Icelandic celebration of Thorrablot.

Today’s menu will likely include more palatable foods like sausage and dark rye bread. Revelers will also consume the local alcohol, Brennvin. This “burning wine,” only produced in Iceland, is 37 percent alcohol and served as an ice-cold shot. It’s also called “black death.”

After eating like a Viking, Icelandic celebrations usually involve singing, dancing, and playing games. More formal affairs may feature stage shows of music and poetry. (Asgard Alaska reminds you to drink responsibly and plan ahead with a designated driver if you plan to attend your own Thorrablot celebration.)

Month of Men

While the traditional foods may not be to everyone’s liking, some are an acquired taste, Thorri is also the month of men. Each man was able to choose a day to be feted. However, if he chose a day with bad weather, it would be seen as an omen of hard times to come. Lastly, for anyone feeling left out, there’s no need. Women will be celebrated in the next month.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *