The Sheep Party

Rettir, a very special round up celebration

In Iceland you can measure time both by looking at your wrist watch or the return of the sheep to their stone folds.
It’s a centuries old practice, traditionally held between September and October: sheep farmers round up their animals, which have been let free for the whole Summer, and then celebrate dancing and singing the long awaited re-union. This is the secret ingredient that makes so special the meat and the products coming from Icelandic sheep: when these animals rediscover the freedom to wander around the volcanic valleys of the island, when the grass can be eaten freely, when it’s the wild wind of the North to test sheep’s fleece to be waterproof, well, something magic happens. During the following months the sheep will become black pudding, or warm jumpers, giving back to its people an extraordinary energy, acquired during a great, unforgettable season of freedom.
Ancient Vikings felt this too, and they thought it was a gift from Asgard’s Gods. Today, there’s just the awareness that the best way to raise truly healthy sheep comes from a deep, straight contact with the severe nature of the North. During the long walks, or horse rides, to round up the sheep, farmers are also able to rediscover a community with deep bonds where all – kids, women, elderlies – have a decisive role in recognising their own sheep.
It’s a connection so symbiotic, they say, that sheep’s fleece end up having the same colour of their owners’ hair.

( 2013, 2016 )