Chapter XLVIII
Feast of Thonar
(Þorrablót) 
In Iceland, the feast of Þorri (falls on a Friday between 19 and 25 January) is seen as a time to celebrate the fact that the days are getting longer again (and to keep up the spirits in the nastiest part of winter). It is also a feast at which the Icelanders hark back to the trials of their forebears by eating their ethnic food - sheeps' heads and a peculiar dish called hákarl, which consists of Greenland shark buried in the ground for a few weeks to rot and then dug up and eaten, and tastes just as horrible as it sounds. Hákarl is usually eaten by alternating small bites of shark with large sips of brennivín (the local Icelandic snaps, called Black Death for good reason). 
Icelandic tales about Þorri are rather limited; it seems to be a traditional feast, as it is spoken of in Flateyjarbók (though the author apparently did not know why the celebration was held, and simply invented a "King Þorri" who held it on a regular date). 
In 1728, Jón Halldorsson of Hitardal wrote a letter to Professor Árni Magnússon of Copenhagen about Icelandic celebrations. Jón stated that the celebration on Þorri's arrival was made so that it might be a mild month for those offering the celebration. In the mid-19th century, the folklorist Jón Arnason wrote that celebrations on the first day of Þorri were called Þorrablót. 
Þorrablót has gained much more popularity in the last century. A song about the festival, "Þorraþrælinn 1866" tells of the complaint of a farmer in the depths of winter; Þorri then comes to him and tells him, more or less, that if he does his best in summer, his winters will go better, and he should hold on, because spring is nearly there. As the title shows, this is not a particularly old song, but it is rather cheery and nicely done. The words and music can be found in Hvað er svo glatt (see "Resources and Organizations" for ordering information). On Friday, 24 January 1873, Icelandic students in Copenhagen celebrated Þórrablót according to their idea of the ancient custom. In 1874, the people of the city Akureyri celebrated this feast, and have done so every year since. In 1880, Þorrablót was held in Reykjavík, but did not become a regular event until the 1940s. The custom started spreading into rural areas in the 1900's. Some christians object to the holding of Þorrablót, and make a point of refusing to participate, since toasts are drunk to the Æsir and Vanir. 
Generally, there is a vague sense that Þorri was some kind of personification of winter, married to a womanly wight named Góa (the first two months in the Icelandic calendar are supposed to be called after them). According to some Icelandic traditions, the wife went out to greet Þorri and the man went out the next month to greet Góa, who was addressed as being milder than her rough husband. According to others, the man of the farm was supposed to go out half-dressed and walk around the house at the feast of Þorri. 
In modern Ásatrú, we often hold the Þorri celebration as "Feast of Thonar". There is no actual etymological connection between Þorri and Þórr, despite the apparent similarities and the claims of certain booklets put out by Iceland's Tourist Board. However, this is the time of year when the frost is strongest and the weather worst - when the rime-thurses are at their mightiest, and, as "Þorraþrællinn" mentions, "Kveður kuldaljóð Kári í jötunmóð" - Kári (the Wind), in his etin-mod, sings a cold song. Thus, it is the most fitting of times to call upon Thonar, whose Hammer wards us from all the dark wights of winter and whose mighty mod cheers us through the icy storms: it is he, after all, who drives back the rime-thurses and thus should bring milder weather. 
Since hákarl, luckily, cannot be gotten outside Iceland, there are several other foods which might be thought fitting to the "Feast of Thonar". In Hárbarðsljóð3, Þórr mentions that he has eaten "herring and oats" for breakfast, to which Óðinn scornfully replies, "You deem your breakfast an early deed". This passage has led to a certain tradition of serving herring and oats for breakfast at Troth feasts (or at least making them available for those who are up for doing early deeds). They are equally appropriate dinner-foods for this feast. Lutefisk may be served in stead of hákarl; blood sausage or "black pudding" is also fitting, as it was one of the main staple foods of the Icelanders in the Viking Age. Akavit can be drunk in place of brennivín (also not often exported). Goat cheeses are, of course, appropriate. 
Any of the myths of Þórr can be adapted as ritual dramas for this feast, or read out or retold if you have someone in your group who is good at this. 
Thonar-Blessing 
The tools needed for this blessing are a Hammer, horn, ale, blessing bowl and twig (by choice, oak), platter, and food for everyone to share with Thonar. If anyone has anything in particular that s/he wishes to give to the god, or have Thonar's blessing on, it should be brought to this rite. 
I. The folk are gathered in darkness. The Godwo/man, Hammer in hand, turns to the North and makes the sign of the Hammer while calling, 
Wih-Thonar's Hammer hallows this stead,
hold us from harsh nibel-cold. 
S/he turns to the East, u.s.w., calling, 
Wih-Thonar's Hammer hallows this stead,
hold us from etins' ill. 
S/he turns to the South, u.s.w., 
Wih-Thonar's Hammer hallows this stead,
hold us from Muspell's main. 
S/he turns to the West, u.s.w., 
Wih-Thonar's Hammer hallows this stead,
hold us from Wyrm beneath waves. 
S/he turns to the North again, swinging the Hammer in a circle above his/her head and calling, 
Ase-Thonar, ward us aye above! 
S/he swings the Hammer downward in a Hammer-sign or circle, calling, 
Buck-Thonar, ward us aye below!
Thy might roars through Middle-Garth here! 
II. The Godwo/man lowers her/his arms and begins to speak, softly at first, but with growing strength. 
Rime-thurses howl and hare over fields,
through frost and frozen earth.
Kári sings harsh in cold etin-mood,
and green leeks nowhere grow.
The strong alone can stand through ice,
and hold hearts high through snow,
with mod and main with might of troth,
through winter, we keep cheer. 
III. The Godwo/man continues to speak, lifting the red candle. 
The lightning's flash our flame makes bright - 
If the Godwo/man is good at lighting a fire fast with flint and steel, s/he should do that now and light the candle from it; otherwise, a lighter will do. 
We hail the Hammer's stroke! Main-Girdle's wearer, might-gauntlets' bearer, swinger of staff of strength! Mjöllnir's wielder Middle-Garth's shielder, Thonar, thy thunder rings forth.
Drive out the rime-thurses thunder through snowfall, bringing the earth to blither days, as days grow longer doughtily fight thou, against cold wights all in etin-mood fierce.
Helper aye of human folk, who hunts over snowfields howling thurse-maids, who won Hymir's cauldron for wassail of Ases, in wain drawn by goats, wend to our feast!
IV. S/he fills the horn with ale and raises it, making the Hammer-sign over it at each half-line. 
Wih-Thonar mighty! Wyrm's sole bane!
Ase-Thonar, awesome! All-mighty god!
Wain-Thonar, strong one! Wielder of Hammer,
Will-Thonar, holy! Wodan's stark son!
The Godwo/man sips from the horn and passes it on. Each person Hammer-signs it and makes a toast to Thonar. 
V. The Godwo/man tops the horn up when it has made its round and pours the ale into the blessing-bowl. S/he lifts it in both hands, speaking again. S/he and the folk alternate lines. 
Godwo/man: 
Hrungnir's woe-dealer, and Hymir's bane! 
All: 
Thonar, we hail thee here! 
Godwo/man: 
Slayer of Gjalp and Geirrøðr's death, 
All: 
Mjöllnir-armed, hail thy might! 
Godwo/man: 
Husband of Gold-Hair, hater of troll-kin, 
All: 
Hlórriði, hail in thy wain! 
Godwo/man: 
Goat-drighten, make we gifts to thee here! 
All: 
Thonar, we hail thee here! 
Each of the folk comes forward and puts a piece of food and any other gift s/he should wish to give the god on the platter. As they do, the Godwo/man sprinkles them with the ale from the blessing bowl, saying, "Wih-Thonar blesses thee with alu-might." S/he blesses him/herself last of all, then says, 
Now feast we in frith with fighter-of-trolls,
the dark shall daunt us not.
Friend to all humans, foe to all ills,
Thonar, we hail thee here! 
All cry out, "Thonar, we hail thee here!" The Godwo/man or rite-helper should knock or bang loudly thrice - perhaps on something that will really resound like thunder, such as an aluminium trash-can - and the rite is over. The blessing-bowl and platter should hold their place all through the night; in the morning, the bread should be placed on an oak-branch or on the earth and the ale poured over it. 
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