Wednesday, December 23, 2015


December 23rd - Þorláksmessa

Traditionally, December 23rd is known as Þorláksmessa, commemorating the anniversary of the death of Saint Thorlak.

Þorlákur (1133 - 1193) was the bishop of Skálholt and died on December 23, 1193. At the next Althing in 1194, the day of his death was decreed a holiday. Soon afterwards, the bishop inofficially became the patron saint of Iceland. Subsequently, Þorláksmessa became a holiday in Norway, on the Faroe Islands and (since the 18th century) in Sweden, as "little Christmas" or "pre-Christmas". The Catholic Church never officially recognised Bishop Þorlákur as a saint before 1984 when Pope John Paul II.canonized him and officially declared him the patron saint of Iceland.

Traditionally, on Þorláksmessa Icelanders eat "kæst skata", rotten skate.

The Icelandic species of skate does not excrete urea though its kidneys, but accumulates it in the body. Thus, the fish is generally not suitable for human consumption. To deal with the problem of potential uraemia caused by this delicacy, the skate is buried and fermented. It takes at least four weeks until the urea has decayed and the fish becomes edible.
The fermented skate is then placed in boiling salt water and simmered until the meat separates from the bones. It is served with boiled potatoes, homemade "rúgbrauð" (rye bread), melted "hneðmjör" (mutton tallow fermented in the sea air and then kneaded) and fresh butter.
Still frozen: Kæst skata and hnoðmör

No comments:

Post a Comment