Icelandic High Chieftain to attend mid-winter event in Arborg

This article appeared in the Jan. 17, 2018 issue of the Interlake Enterprise…

The Esjan Club, the Arborg chapter of the Icelandic National League of North America, will be holding its 38th annual Þorrablót celebration on Feb. 2, at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 161 in Arborg.

Þorrablót,” a traditional pagan feast, is celebrated in Iceland during the month of “Þorri” on the old Icelandic calendar. It runs from mid-January to mid-February.

Normally, the club holds its dinner and dance event in mid-March, inviting speakers from Iceland or local guests of interest. However, an opportunity to have a very distinguished guest attend this year has generated a lot of excitement among club members and resulted in the change of date.

The club will be welcoming honoured guest, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, High Chieftain of the Norse pagan religious society, Ásatrúarfélagið, which was founded in 1972 and officially recognized by the Icelandic government in 1973.

To my knowledge, this is the first time a High Chieftain has visited North America,” said Esjan Club president, Signy McInnis.

Hilmarsson is the society’s fourth High Chieftain since it was established. He joined the Norse religion at age sixteen, shortly after its founding, and was ordained in 2003. He is now a recognized authority on Norse paganism and has led interfaith services with the Dalai Lama, the Reykjavík Free Church, and has worked hard to promote social justice issues.

Hilmarsson is also a highly accomplished musician and art director. In 1993 he won the European Film Composer of the Year for an Oscar nominated film, Children of Nature.

While none of the Esjan club members practise the Norse religion, said the club’s vice-president, Joel Fridfinnsson, he believes Hilmarsson’s visit is appropriate.

Hosting the High Chieftain at Þorrablót is not only an honour for Arborg, but very appropriate considering Þorrablót’s roots as a feast in honour of the Norse Gods,” he noted. “It’s a positive thing, and quite an experience having this gentleman come. I think this is an interesting thing for Arborg.”

I’m not sure about anything he will be doing at the moment other than attending. Those details have yet to be finalized,” Fridfinnsson said.

Fridfinnsson is hoping Hilmarsson’s visit will generate interest in both the Esjan Club and in Icelandic culture.

The Esjan Club, founded in 1939, derives its name from Mt. Esjan, a mountain located outside Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. The club currently has 20 members, ranging in age from their late twenties up to over ninety.

Fridfinnsson, who himself became a member at age 17, 15 years ago, said that new members are welcome to join and need not be of Icelandic descent.

We simply get together in an effort to promote and celebrate Icelandic culture in Arborg and the surrounding area,” he said.

This is a fundraising event for our club and basically giving back to the Icelandic community any way we can in an effort to support Icelandic community and culture,” Fridfinnsson said.

Money raised may help support such things as the local Icelandic paper, the Icelandic Camp north of Gimli, or the Icelandic League of North America.

Anyone is welcome to attend Þorrablót. Tickets, which cost $35 for adults and at a discount for children 12 and under, are available by calling Joel Fridfinnsson at (204) 641-0225 or David Gislason at (204) 376-5578.

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About Teresa

Teresa Carey is a ceramic artist, writer, photographer, journalist, publisher and nature lover. She lives in Manitoba's Interlake on a small acreage close to the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

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