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Faroe Islands: Happy New Year from Tórshavn

by Sanne
New Year's Eve, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

We should have been to Svínoy to celebrate New Years Eve, but because of the weather, we decided to stay in Tórshavn. It was a nice and quiet evening, and it was fine with me, because I’m still struggling to shake off that cold, which I was blessed with last week.

In the afternoon, we went for a ride around Tórshavn with a quick detour to the small village of Velbastaður. We passed a field with Faroese horses, and I had to step out and take some photos. The Faroese Horse was close to extinction in the 1960s, but a successful breeding and conservation program was initiated and today, the strong little horses are again a common sight throughout the islands. When I was a kid, I had a book called The Faroese Horse (by Ólavur Michelsen). It’s about a wild Faroese horse, which is captured and sent to England to work in the mining industry, and it’s one of the saddest books I’ve ever read.

Before dinner last night, we went down to see one of the big bonfires in Tórshavn. Lighting a fire on New Year’s Eve is a Faroese tradition, but because of the weather, we weren’t sure, if there would be a fire. Though just after 6pm people started gathering and the bonfire was lit. There was also a speech and people were singing traditional Faroese songs, and even though it was freezing, it was very cozy. Though after a while, the wind changed, and small embers were blown right at us, so we decided to go home. In Denmark, we always watch the queen’s speech at 6pm, but this year I was overruled by bonfire and Premier League. I streamed the speech later, and it was great. Queen Margarethe still got it!

The New Year’s dinner was a mix of Faroese and Danish food along with a couple of common items. In the Faroe Islands, you typically eat ræst kjøt, which is aged, fermented lamb meat. It smells horrible, and if you enter a kitchen, while they’re cooking ræst kjøt, you’ll probably think that someone has died. It’s surprisingly tastiy though, if you’re able to ignore the smell.

In Denmark, we eat cod on New Year’s Eve, so I made one of my grandma’s specialties, torskeguf, for the Faroese. It’s a cold starter with cod, shrimps and eggs, served with a sauce made from sour cream and whipping cream. It tastes better than it sounds, and the Faroese liked it.

Shortly before midnight, we drove up to Oyggjarvegnum, which is a road that runs in the hills above the city, and from Oyggjarvegnum you have a splendid view of Tórshavn and the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. In the Faroe Islands, people have always fired old emergency flares on New Year’s Eve, even though they’re only to be used by ships in distress and Poul told me there are usually hundreds of flares lighting up Tórshavn on New Year’s Eve. Though this year, a ban has been imposed, prohibiting the use of flares as fireworks, but as you can see in the photos below, I don’t think people cared much about that.

My Faroe Islands Blog

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