Ullrfest (1/31/14)

Ullrfest (1/31/14)

JR and I headed to Sam’s for happy hour on Friday.  Only when we got there, we found it was Ullrfest (OOOL-er).

From Ullr.org : by David McKee

“You know the feeling-you are on your skis working the rhythm, enjoyin’ the speed, and suddenly for a few turns, you feel immortal.  The feeling is difficult to describe but perhaps you sensed a little inspiration from Ullr, the god of choice among Scandinavians and backcountry snow lovers alike.

Ullr was competing with the likes of Thor, who brandished a hammer capable of shooting lightning bolts in battle.  Then there was Loki the trickster, who could assume the form of animals to deceive or escape the wrath of the gods.  Despite his lack of supernatural powers (aside from skiing), Ullr was the name invoked to warrant good luck when undertaking a duel.  His name, which means glorious or dazzling, clearly reflects his abilities, and myth has it he once held the seat of the highest god.  His character and the legends associated with it are pervasive throughout the historic tales of the Vikings, Goths, Saxons, and ancient Britons.  Basically, Ullr rules!

Most important to us snow lovers, Ullr is the god of skiing.  As the undisputed master of skis, he often used his skill to escape from foes or track down prey in addition to shredding fresh POW.  In a sport intimately tied with Scandinavian tradition, it is no wonder that in Norway there are a number of place names that incorporate the name of Ullr.

In the days of Ullr, skis were not entirely what we’d recognize today.  In fact, what we know as skis probably did not evolve until the last century.  In the time of the gods, skis were akin to two planks of wood – one wrapped with cord to provide traction.  As people were often hunting or at war, a single ski pole was often used, allowing a free hand for a weapon.

It is said that Ullr was such a great skier that he would streak across the sky leaving the brilliant stars as his trails (they obviously had some fine powder days).  Though very skilled, Ullr guarded his knowledge closely and refused to show the other gods how to ski.  Luckily for us, he let the secret out of the bag and we will all be soon celebrating his glory.  Next time you are trying to bash through some wind crust or plunge head first into fresh waist deep powder, be sure to invoke his name and remember – ULLR RULES!”

Wow.  That guy is really excited about Ullr.  That description reminds me of the worst class I ever took at UGA – Mythology.  It’s just not for me.  Anyway, in Red Lodge, they brew a special beer for Ullrfest called, obviously, Ullrfest Lager.  The big event is a bonfire of Christmas trees.  Apparently, anyone can bring their Christmas tree over and add it to the pile.  We got there when the fire first started.

Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures.  I was using my phone, with mittens.  Didn’t work too well!

Ullr fire

Ullr JR

JR sampling Ullrfest and trying to stay warm

We didn’t stay outside long because it was super cold and started snowing.  I still had my snow gear on from some cross country skiing after work, but JR wasn’t dressed for the weather.  But, if we were cold, Doug Bailey, Red Lodge Ales marketing guy / President for the last Festival of Nations / Ullrfest bonfire lighter, must have been freezing.  Doug a/k/a the “Beerbarian,” wears a kilt year-round.  Last night he had on his kilt, boots and some sort of fur wrap, but no real shirt (I’m sure he would love that I’m calling it a “wrap!”).  In the picture below, you can see him coming out from behind the tree.  He is wearing a helmet with antlers on it.  JR and I first met Doug years ago when he was dating his then-girlfriend, Suzannah.  Now they are married and have a beautiful daughter named Ireland.  They kind-of leap-frogged us on that one!  Maybe Doug can talk JR into competing in the 2014 Festival of Nations Games in 2014!  Oh Spring, how I look forward to seeing you again, but I digress.

Ullr doug

Ullr Doug

Hey, it was something different to do!