Friday, January 23, 2009

The old Icelandic month of Þorri

The Old Norse Calendar is often broken down into two groups often referred to as "winter months" and "summer months". The midwinter month of Þorri always begins on the Friday after January 19th. The midwinter feast Þorrablót was held to celebrate that winter is half over and we survived without starvation or serious illness.
The first day of Þorri is called Bóndadagur or "Husband's Day/Farmer's Day", and is dedicated to men (formerly only farmers). Earlier it was only the husband who was treated with better food the first day of Þorri, as a credit for bringing the family through half the winter. As time passed all other people in the household where also given more and better food on this day.
In 2009 the old month of Þorri begins on 23 January the last day of Þorri is on Saturday 21 February.
Icelanders serve food for Þorrablót that was regularly eaten in the time of the Vikings and Icelanders in and before the 19th Century. With no refrigerator, the Vikings and the farmers of Iceland used other methods to preserve the food during long cold winters. Food was smoked, soured, salted, and dried; this food has become the food served at Þorrablót as a tribute to the Old Icelandic culture. Some food or Þorramatur served at Þorrablót are: Hangikjot (smoked lamb), Svið (jellied sheep's head), Hrútspungur (cured ram testicles), Bringukollar (breast meat), Lifrarpylsa (liver sausage), Harðfiskur (dried fish, served with butter), Kartöflustappa (mashed sweetened potatoes), Rófustappa (mashed rutabagas), and Rúgbrauð (rye bread).
Traditional Þorrablót’s are an evening filled with drinking and dancing along with the Old Icelandic feast. In Utah we have forgone the traditional; Brennivín (caraway schnapps), or Bjór (beer), for soft drinks. It is still an evening full of fun as we celebrate with Icelanders around the world in remembering the past. So far we have held off those that find the Þorramatur not to their liking by serving roasted lamb and baked or fried cod or haddock. Some have suggested that we should have Þorri chicken, Þorri prime rib, grilled Þorri steak, Þorri pizza, Þorri lasagna, and other such stuff. This is not really Þorramatur, of course, and in my opinion, people who would like a Þorrablót with this stuff would be better off going out to dinner and seeing a show. They, for sure, would be missing out on the special experience of Þorrablót and the tribute to our Icelandic culture of the past.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

IAU 2009 Membership Drive

The Icelandic Association of Utah is now holding its annual membership drive.

Please consider becoming a member of the Icelandic Association of Utah. It takes a lot of members to keep this organization going. You are the next generation of Icelanders in Utah and the association needs your support. They only ask for $15.00 per year.

Memberships make it possible to celebrate our Icelandic culture and heritage in Utah by having many activities such as: Thorrablot (importing Icelandic food, renting the building, door prizes…); participate in Scandinavian Heritage Days in Ephriam, Utah; Iceland Days Festival; maintenance for the Icelandic Memorial in Spanish Fork; resources (training materials, supplies, research books from Iceland and etc.) for the Family History Center in Spanish Fork: hosting of visiting Icelanders; newsletters (printing and postage); affiliate membership in the Icelandic National League of North America; and many other activities.

Mission Statement
The purpose of the Icelandic Association of Utah, Inc. is to: Celebrate and perpetuate the common interest in culture and heritage of Iceland, through activities and continuing education. Promote closer and better relations with the people of Iceland. Preserve the memory of the early Icelandic pioneers who established the first permanent Icelandic settlement in North America at Spanish Fork, Utah.

Take the time, today, to send in your membership.

IAU 2009 Annual Membership ¨ *Family $15.00 ¨ Individual $10.00
* Family members must reside at the same address.
Others over 18 years old at the same address _________________________________________
Address ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________
City _________________________________ State _______________ Zip __________
Phone _______ _______ ___________ Cell _______ _______ ___________
Email Address ___________________________________________________________
Volunteers are vital to the success of the events of the Icelandic Association, how would like to help? _______________________________________________________________________
Mail to:
Icelandic Association of Utah
P.O. Box 874
Spanish Fork, UT 84660

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Eiríkur Ólafsson

Eiríkur Ólafsson (Eirikur Olafsson) was born 14 November 1823 in Steinar, Rangarvalla. His parents are Olafur Sigurdsson, born 29 July 1793, died 25 October 1854; and Helga Eiriksdottir, born about 1791. Eirikur married Runhildur Runolfsdottir, born 17 May 1823 in Heidi, Reynir i Myrdal, Vestur Skaftafell. Her parents are Runolfur Sigurdsson, born in 1798 in Kross, Rangarvalla, died 19 June 1862; and Ingveldur Jonsdottir, born in 1798 in Dyrholar i Myrdal, Vestur Skaftafell, died 13 April 1868 at Skaganes, Reynir i Myrdal, Vestur Skaftafell. Eirikur and Runhildur had four children: Olafur, born 1852; Ingveldur 1854-1930; Skuli 1853-1907; and Sveinn born 1856.
Eirikur and Runhildur joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were baptized by Elder Jakob B. Jonsson on 30 April 1881. Eirikur, Runhildur and their daughter Ingveldur and her son Thorbjorn Thorvaldsson left Iceland 7 July 1881 with a group of 22 Icelandic Saints for America. Runhildur became ill and died while enroute to Spanish Fork, Utah; she is buried at North Platte, Nebraska. Eirikur remained behind to see the burial of his wife; however, his daughter and her son continued on to Utah. The group of Saints arrived in Salt Lake City 8 August 1881. They went directly to Spanish Fork, Utah. Ingveldur and her son stayed with Thordur Didriksson until Eirikur arrived in Spanish Fork 28 August 1881.
Eirikur Olafsson went to Iceland to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint in 1882. His service as a missionary was not the same as that of others who had served as missionaries in Iceland. In 1882 Eirikur reported that his name was called as a missionary in the spring conference in 1882. When he arrived in Salt Lake City he received no letter of appointment and was not set apart like other missionaries, nor did he receive the priesthood, which is given to missionaries before they depart. He felt impressed to go to Iceland and do missionary work without the proper authority.
Eirikur Olafsson went to Iceland with missionaries Elders Gisli Einasson (Bjarnason) and Peter Valgardsson. Eirikur was ordained an elder by Elder Gisli Einasson 7 June 1883, according to instructions received from the president of the Scandinavian Mission. He later apostatized.
Eirikur had written a book before returning to Iceland with the missionaries. The book served as a witness for truth and explained the errors of men by means of quotations from the Bible. Eirikur had one thousand copies of his book printed in Copenhagen, Denmark at his own expense of sixty dollars. He sold his books in districts in Iceland that had not been previously visited by Mormon missionaries. When he arrived in Reykjavik he had problems with the local authorities. He conversed with many priests in Iceland about religious topics. They differed much in their conception, and some became very angry with him, while others acknowledged that the Mormon doctrine was right and said they would be baptized as soon as the bishop would. He visited with hundreds of families and conversed with thousands of people concerning the truth and the commandments of God. Many acknowledged that the Mormon doctrines were true, but at the same time believed that their doctrines were good enough to save them.
He returned to Spanish Fork, Utah in 1883, where he remained for ten years. He then sold his home and went to visit his son Sveinn, in Independence, Missouri. Eirikur lived with him for a year and then went to Canada. He returned to Iceland and married Gudfinna Saemundsdottir, born 2 October 1865; her parents are Saemundur Jonsson, born 13 June 1829, died 13 November 1906; and Gudfinna Jonsdottir, born 8 June 1824, died 8 August 1878. It is said that when Eirikur married Gudfinna, he wanted a Mormon marriage, as he held the highest office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Iceland at that time. He performed his own marriage ceremony before three witnesses. There was such uproar over it, he wrote to the King of Denmark, telling him of the circumstance. The King sent back his approval of the marriage. A circular was printed with this sanction on it and delivered with the morning paper.
Eirikur later apostiziesed from the Mormon Faith and published another book, tearing to pieces all that he had written and published the first time. The books written by Eirikur were used as research by Halldor Laxness when he wrote Paradise Reclaimed in 1960. Eirikur was one of the characters the novel.
Eirikur was generally known as Eirikur from Brunum. Eirikur died in Iceland 14 October 1900 in Reykjavik. He is number 291 in Icelanders of Utah.