Bóndadagur and Meatloaf
Today is the Icelandic holiday Bóndadagur, or “Husband’s Day”. It marks the first day of the month of Þorri in the old Icelandic calendar. Etymologically speaking the holiday comes from the word Bondi which could mean man of the house or even farmer, so the translation takes a few different forms.
Since this is a holiday geared toward the special “men of the house”, there are a number of interesting traditions that have grown up around it. Some of these traditions are somewhat confusing; a man is supposed to climb into his pants with only one leg, letting the other drag behind him, then hop throughout his house in a sign of… well, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to signify. These days we see celebrations a bit more in keeping with our culture. It’s a day for special treatment and pampering of the men in our lives.
Leah and Wit bought me a bar of chocolate and a bouquet of flowers to celebrate the day. Leah also asked me what special meal I’d like prepared for my faux-Þorrablót.
What is Þorrablót, you ask? Why that’s a traditional midwinter feast held at the start of Þorri to usher in the coldest month of the year. Þorri is absolutely jam-packed with feasts and celebrations, to be honest. It’s not surprising, though, if you imagine the small farm community packed into their turf home huddled down trying to survive the harshest season. Best to mix it up with celebrations, drinking, feasting, and anything else to distract you.
The Þorrablót feast is full of traditional delicacies, or horrors, depending on your disposition. They are all foods of survival in this unforgiving landscape, and still welcomed with joy in many households. Some of the dishes you could expect to see are meats (pickled or salted, smoked, or dried) such as Hangikjöt or “hanged meat”, svíð or seared lamb’s skull, hrútspungar or ram testicles, slátur or blood sausage, harðfiskur or dried fish, and treats like Icelandic rye bread. (Side note: I made slátur with a friend’s family before Christmas and it’s quite good. It’s like haggis.)
Now before you get excited about the awesome foods above, we didn’t do much of that ourselves this year. While I wouldn’t say no to any of it myself, Leah and Wit are not quite as welcoming. Instead I suggested we have meatloaf for dinner! Leah makes an excellent recipe and it felt “meaty” enough to fit the holiday in spirit. Besides, I’m the man of the house so it’s my decision, right? 🙂
Sadly we also learned this morning of the passing of the musician, Meatloaf.
Rest in peace, big guy. His name is Robert Paulson.