From Iceland — No Singles Allowed: The Great Bolungarvík Debate

No Singles Allowed: The Great Bolungarvík Debate

Published October 19, 2017

No Singles Allowed: The Great Bolungarvík Debate
Photo by
Art Bicnick

When the first Þorrablót (an annual celebration involving the eating of sheep’s testicles and drinking of brennvín, among other merriments) was held in Bolungarvík in 1944 , little did participants know that over half a century later the event was to become the centre of a fierce national debate.

The blót was arranged by town wives who would then invite their husbands. Hence, only married people with residency in Bolungarvík were permitted entry, but verified co-habitation was also deemed acceptable. Widows and widowers were allowed along with women whose men were at sea. Otherwise, a present spouse was mandatory.

The event attracted national interest in 2007, by which time social norms had changed. Many felt it offensive for the unwedded to have to stay home. Others pointed to how the rules affected different individuals. Divorcees were refused entry, while remarried former spouses could happily go in and show off their new hubbies. Single mothers, gays and the mentally handicapped similarly did not receive invitations.

An angry article by a divorcee in a local paper led to a national furore. The event organisers pointed out that they were a private group and could invite whomever they pleased, citing ancient traditions. Others pointed out that traditions had changed—for instance, ahistorical champagne, chicken wings and diet-Coke were served, alongside the more traditional testicles.

Finally, a poll was held by the paper DV. 61 percent voted against singles entry. The blót went on as planned but did not stop being the subject of controversy.

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