Þorrablót - A traditional Viking festival all around Iceland
A month-long festivity, taking places in homes and restaurants. Traditional Viking food is consumed. It has its roots in the old midwinter feasts of the pagan era, the Þorrablót, although the way in which it is celebrated has changed. It begins on a Friday, between the 19th and the 25th of January and ends on a Saturday between the 18th and 24th of February. The first day of Þorri is called Bóndadagur or "Husband's Day/Farmer's Day", and is dedicated to men (formerly only farmers). Some have suggested that the month is named after the legendary king who united Norway into one country. Others think it is derived from the name of the thunder-god Þór (Thor), and that this was his feast during the pre-Christian era in Iceland.
Whatever the origin of the feast of Þorri, it is today a standard part of the Icelandic social calendar, and has even been exported to many countries which have ex-pat Icelandic populations, often to the utter dismay of foreign friends and spouses.
The eating habits of the Icelandic nation have changed a lot in the last hundred years or so, and it is only during Þorri that people will eat many of the old-fashioned foods. As this feast takes place in the middle of winter, it is no surprise that most of the food served at the feasts is preserved in some way: by pickling in whey, salting, smoking, drying or fermenting.
A typical Þorrablót takes place at any time during Þorri. The season for it now extends into the following month, Góa, but the feast is then usually dubbed Góugleði. It is advisable to hold it on a Friday or Saturday night, to give the participants time to recover from the effects of overeating and heavy drinking that goes with a good Þorrablót. The form the feast takes is similar everywhere, the indispensable ingredients being merrymaking and lots of food. Additional ingredients are staged entertainment (often a cabaret or revue), dancing and lots of alcohol.
The traditional method of serving the food in deep wooden trays is these days usually only extended as far as the buffet, ordinary plates taking their place at the table, and cutlery taking the place of the traditional sharp knife and the diner's bare hands.