In Iceland, a disgusting myth so strong even locals believe
While there has been an explosion of articles about Iceland and Icelanders in foreign papers for the last couple of years and most weird locals customs been covered, laughed at and ridiculed on social media there still remain a few we try not to advertise.
Fortunately, one of the strangest custom of all has not yet gained traction abroad. We say fortunately simply because there is such a strong horrible-sounding myth linked to this custom that even many locals believe it to be true.
The custom in question is the habit of eating rotting skate the day before Christmas, a day called Thorlaksmessa in the local language. Then everyone pretending to be anything in this society hurries home or to the nearest restaurant for a rotten skate during lunchtime. This custom dates from old times when the last day before Christmas was also the last day of Christmas fast and therefore meat was out of the question.
If you have even been in the same neighborhood as rotting food you know well the smell is anything but nice. Most often it is awful in the gargantuan sense of the word awful.
Now, you may have read about this being a rotten-shark eating population on this island and thus a fact like this should perhaps not surprise you much. What you might not know is that amazing numbers of locals, even those dining this delicacy, believe that the reason for the evil, nasty smell of the rotten skate is because it has been fermented in human waste. Human piss to be exact.
Wait. Before you pass judgement keep in mind that the smell of the ready-to-eat skate is quite reminiscent of the smell of a tiny toilet in any popular joint late Sunday morning. After not a soul has been able to keep a steady and controlled flow for hours.
Yeah, it does sound disgusting but this is a strange lot inhabiting this rock in the middle of nowhere. Inbreeding might have something to do with it 🙂
In any case, the famous myth of the piss-fermented skate is 100% untrue. The smell is linked to urine but the urine of the fish and not humans.
Do try it next time you find yourself in Iceland the day before Christmas.