Thorlaksmessa with soured skate and potatoes, thank you

The Mass of St. Thorlákur* is the last day before Christmas, known as Thorláksmessa, celebrated on the 23rd of December every year. The day is celebrated mostly by eating putrefied “rotten” skate and also to buying the last presents for Christmas. The 23rd December marks the date of Thorlac’s death and is considered the last day of preparations before Christmas. The day is traditionally celebrated by eating soured skate and potatoes.

Including the Mass of Thorlakur, Icelanders have some great Christmas traditions. For example they do have not had only one Santa Claus, to be true to their Viking nature they are thirteen. Called Jolasveinar by the natives, translates Yule Lads, they are a team of naughty teasers in nature and playfull to say the least.

*Celebrated in the memory of Thorlákur Thórhallsson, who was Bishop at Skálholt in Iceland in the 12th century and became a Holy man. Thorlakur, or Thorlac, was a popular 12th century Icelandic bishop who is now the patron saint of Iceland after Pope John Paul II canonised him in 1984.