Farmers and Feasts

This year, the Icelandic holiday of Bondadagur (Bóndadagur) or Husband’s/Farmer’s Day, was on January 21 and marks the first day of the Thorri (Þorri), the fourth winter month in the old Icelandic calendar. Is there a better way to celebrate surviving the darkest days of winter and prepare for harshest days of winter to come than with an all-Icelandic lamb feast and a special honoring farmers? Icelanders don’t think so.

Farmer’s Day

Bondadagur can be translated as husband’s day or farmer’s day, but you don’t have to be a farmer to enjoy it. It is meant to be a day to celebrate the menfolk of Iceland, be they actual sheep farmers or app developers, and eat Icelandic lamb in all its glorious forms.

Celebrating Thorri fell out of favor around the year 1000 but since making a comeback in the late 19th century it has become an annual tradition. Accounts of one particular tradition vary, but it is said that on Bondadagur the man of the house, should you have one, must wake up before everyone else, put on a shirt and only one leg of his pants, go outside and hop around the house on one foot with an empty pant leg flopping behind him. To what end he is meant to do this is unclear, but afterward everyone enjoys the Thorri feast of Icelandic lamb done in a myriad of ways.

Feast of Thorri

In the days before men were made to hop half-dressed around their houses, sacrifices to Thor (Þór), the god of thunder, would be made. But nowadays there are no sacrifices of the hopping variety or otherwise.

Instead, the Thorri feast (Þorrablót) is all about putting on your finest Icelandic woolen sweater or lopapeysa and feasting on such delicacies as lamb’s head (svið), smoked lamb (hangikjöt), ram’s testicles (hrútspungar) and a variety of sausages including a blood sausage similar to haggis called blóðmör. Icelanders were way ahead of the sustainability curve on this one as not one bit of the lamb is wasted. And if that’s still not enough for you, you can throw in some dried fish, fermented shark and rye bread.

And have no fear that women are left out in the cold. Women’s Day (Konudagur) comes a little later in the year in mid-February and involves no hopping.

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