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Bóndadagur og Þorrablót / Husband’s Day and Midwinter Viking Feast

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

It better warm up around here or no one will be running around their house half- naked tomorrow! Friday, January 24th is the day we celebrate Bóndadagur, where the man of the house is supposed to run around the outside of the house (BRRRR) to bring good tidings to the family.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the old Icelandic month called Thorri (Þorri). The very first day of the month is called Bóndadagur. The Iceland Review has published a few books and here are some excerpts from the one about Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales.

It is an old custom to celebrate the first day of Thorri. It as the duty of the farmer (man of the house) to welcome Thorri by rising earlier than anyone else. He was to get up and go out clad only in a shirt, barefoot and partly barelegged, for he was to wear only one leg of his underpants, while the other was to be dragged behind. Thus attired, he was to . . . hop on one foot all around the house, dragging his underpants on the other, and bid Thorri welcome to his home.

In modern times, this first day of the month is called “husband’s day” and the lady of the house is supposed to treat her husband exceptionally well. These traditions were to bring good luck to the farm and home.

In the late 14th century, the Flatey Book tells of old King Thorri, who made a sacrifice called a Thorrablot (Thor feast) every year in the middle of winter. So, maybe Thorri was named a winter spirit or weather god.

In the 1870´s, this tradition became popular in Iceland again. Thor, the thunder-god was honored, probably because it was a popular explanation that the name Thorri (Þorri) was for Thor (Þór), the hammer-wielding Germanic through Viking Age god associated with thunder, storms, oak trees, strength, and healing.

People wear emblems, jewelry, and even have tattoos of his hammer, named Mjölnir. Thor has a day of the week named after him: Thor's day or Thursday.

The food served at a Þorrablót is of traditional Icelandic dishes, prepared the way of olden days when every part of the animal was used and preservation was to salt, dry, or put in whey.

Jeff and Sunna Þorrablót 2011 photo

So, whether the Þorrablót was named after the Norwegian king, Thorri, or after Thor, the Norse thunder-god, it is a fun and interesting tradition. I am glad we celebrate it in North America. My husband calls it “The Bad Food Party” but he enjoys himself anyway.

I am the co-chair for the North Dakota Þorrablót. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 22nd in Mountain and is sponsored by the Icelandic Communities Association. We will have a great time with lots of traditional Icelandic foods, music, entertainment, silent auction, live auction, and lots of door prizes. Hope to see you there!

Happy Bóndadagur!

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