St. Thorlak's Day

Category: Folk
St. Thorlak's Day in Iceland in 2024
Image: Aurora Borealis over Iceland. from Pixabay. CC0

About St. Thorlak's Day

How long until St. Thorlak's Day?
St. Thorlak's Day .
Dates of St. Thorlak's Day
2025 Iceland Tuesday, December 23rdSt. Thorlak's Day
2024 Iceland Monday, December 23rdSt. Thorlak's Day
2023 Iceland Saturday, December 23rdSt. Thorlak's Day
2022 Iceland Friday, December 23rdSt. Thorlak's Day
2021 Iceland Thursday, December 23rdSt. Thorlak's Day
A national holiday in Iceland to honour their patron saint, a 12th century bishop.

Today is the Feast of Saint Thorlak, and in Iceland, it’s a national holiday. Saint Thorlak Thorhallsson is the patron saint of Iceland. He was bishop of Skálholt from 1178 until his death. 

This holiday is typically celebrated by eating putrefied skate, though a 2020 poll from Market and Media Research shows that about 30% of respondents intend to dine on skate, down from 42% in 2011.

The preparation of skate for this holiday is marked by lengthy fermentation in a sealed environment, after which it is usually steamed or boiled. 

The smell can be so pervasive and overpowering, in fact, that even property owners take strong exception with cooking it in apartment buildings. Sigurður Helgi Guðjónsson, the director of the Homeowners’ Association, spared no words in discussing the matter with RÚV.

“Commonly, the general rule about consideration and tolerance should be followed, but there is no consideration shown in flushing this kind of stench over innocent people,” he said, referring to people who cook skate in their apartment. “It’s like a terrorist attack on the taste buds. This isn’t food; this is spoiled material and is classified as trash by any definition. This is a barbaric feast and just horrifying, the smell sticks inside the building well into spring.”

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