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Ullr: The man, the myth, the snow god legend

Ullr Costume Breckenridge

January in Breckenridge ushers in the peak of ski season and, naturally, a time of reflection and thanks aimed at our beautiful surroundings. All of this fresh New Year glory — and the deep-rooted reflex to yearn for more snow — are encompassed in Breck’s most anticipated winter event, Ullr Fest Jan. 11–17.

Ullr Fest BreckenridgeSteeped in tradition and revelry, the weeklong string of happenings includes a notoriously rowdy parade that brings more than 12,000 folks and Viking helmets galore to Main Street, along with friendly contests like Breck’s Got Talent, the Ullympics, and the inaugural Ullr fat tire bike race at the Gold Run Nordic Center.

So who the heck is Ullr, you ask?

A product of Norse mythology, he’s been dubbed the God of Snow, Patron Saint of Skiers, the son of Sif and stepson of Thor, the God of Thunder. Cold-loving, bow-wielding Ullr (pronounced Oool-er) is said to be an expert skater, skier and hunter who would glide around the world and cover the land with snow.

Ullr BonfireAnd so we pray to him for fresh powder and abundantly white winters. Breckenridge’s annual party, Ullr Fest has been quenching Summit County’s thirst to celebrate winter since 1963. We bundle up, chant his name, burn old skis in raging bonfires, put on talent shows, and giggle at our neighbors being pulled down snowpacked Main Street by teams of huskies.

Like farmers thirsting for bountiful crops, the livelihood of ski communities has long been linked to uncontrollable, fickle factors such as the weather. Why not create a man to reckon with, an invisible larger-than-us force to kneel to and throw our wintry wishes at?

Ullr Festival Winter Event Lifestyle at BreckenridgeIt’s good clean community fun, a way to keep a season of shorter days and limited daylight cheery and carefree, but mostly a gathering of a common denominator — our love of snow and powder days.

Read more in the Summit Daily’s recent Story of Ullr.

Pray for snow!

– Lisa Pogue

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