From Iceland — St. Thorlack's Day In 2020: Less Skate-Eaters Than Previous Years

St. Thorlack’s Day In 2020: Less Skate-Eaters Than Previous Years

Published December 23, 2020

Photo by
Inga María Brynjarsdóttir

A new poll conducted by Market and Media Research shows that this St. Thorlack’s day, fewer people will gather to participate in traditions, such as skate-eating, than usual. Eating this putrified dish is a traditional way to observe St. Thorlack’s Day, which is a national holiday in Iceland.

According to the poll, only 30% of people said they wish to eat fermented skate, compared to 37% last year. This drop is likely partially due to people choosing to err on the side of caution with regards to the spread of coronavirus, but also because this traditional food has been becoming less and less popular in recent years. In 2011, 42% of people surveyed by Market and Media Research said that they would be consuming the putrified fish. The fact that the last decade has seen such steady lack of interest in this food means that it is safe to call skate-eating a dying tradition.

The new information revealed in the demographic breakdown of the poll shows that men are more likely to eat skate than women. Countryside-dwellers are more likely than city folk. Older Icelanders are more likely than younger ones. And supporters of the Progressive Party are more likely than supporters of any other political party.

As people traditionally gather together to eat skate, it is definitely safer to abstain this year. Anyway, as the dish is renowned for its putrid, lingering stench, this might be a decision your friends and family will thank you for. In Reykjavík, taking an evening stroll down Laugavegur is another way to observe this national holiday. Many shops and coffee houses will be open later than normal, so you can enjoy the festive ambience before everything closes for the holidays. Just don’t forget to wear your mask and observe social distancing!

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