“There is more in the heart of man than money can buy.”
Happy Father’s Day with a saying from Grettir’s Saga!
We have been making and shipping Vinarterta across Canada and the United States for fathers everywhere! We honour all of our vinarterta eating fathers and ancestors with this Icelandic Saying from Grettir’s Saga. It’s perfect because of the birthplace of Iceland’s famous outlaw Grettir the Strong. He was born about 996 at Bjarg, Torfastaðahreppur, Húnavatnssýsla in Iceland. That is also the birthplace of our great great grandfather Benedikt Bjarnason. His daughter, our great grandmother Margrét, Vinarterta maker, emigrated to Geysir, Manitoba. She brought with her the delicious striped Icelandic Cake recipe. Margrét raised a strong family of six sons including our beloved Afi.
About Grettir’s Saga:
Here are some historical notes about the site of Bjarg and from Grettir’s Saga. Grettir was the son of Ásmundur Thorgrímsson. He known for his long, hoary locks. His mother was Ásdís Bárdardóttir. Even when he was young, Grettir was intractable and overbearing. According to Grettir’s Saga, his mother gave him the family sword, Jökulnaut. When he left home she bade him use it well. His relatives are presented in the Grettir’s Saga as good folk and create a sharp contrast to the wild, audacious and tragic nature of Grettir’s personality.
There are many tales of Grettir´s prowess, not least the story in Grettir’s Saga of his wrestling and triumph over the ghost Glamur at Thórhallastaðir in Vatnsdalur and at Drangeyjarsund. Grettir was sentenced to outlawry for having killed a man. Later he killed both the farmer and his son at Thóroddstadir to venge the killing of his own brother Atli, who had farmed at Bjarg. Grettir was an outlaw for nineteen years, the longest of any Icelander. During his outlawry Grettir roamed widely over Iceland and lived, among other places, beside Big Arnarvatn Lake for three winters. The map of Iceland is dotted with places named for him.
Grettir lived on the island of Drangey in Skagafjord the last three years of his life. He was killed there, along with his brother Illugi. His head is said to be under Grettisthúfa Mound at Bjarg, and his grave in Reykir in Reykjaströnd. His half-brother, Thorsteinn drómundur, avenged his death south in Constantinople. Grettir’s Saga, the record of his life is one of the best known of the old Icelandic writings and a very moving story.
The farm, Bjarg, gets its name from the glacier-scoured rock Berg. The boulder known as Grettistok lies in the field above Bjarg, a glacial erratic left behind after the glaciers melted. There is a plaque on Berg in memory Grettir’s mother Asdis. The memorial was unveiled in 1974 and shows a scene from Grettir’s Saga by Halldór Pétursson. Ásdís herself became a favorite topic of poets because of her unwavering mother love.
And so, we like to think of our ancestors entertained by Grettir’s Saga and cooking in the turf house at Bjarg. From there descended a long line who ultimately created Vinarterta before emmigrating to North America.
They knew this to be true: There is more in the heart of man than money can buy!
The young men on their way to visit the home of their great great great grandfather know it too!
Happy Father’s Day from Grettir’s Saga!
Photo Credit: Arden Jackson