Gotland`s lamb-head eating festival. Part I

Old traditions in new coat 🙂

Not only small (area 45 000 km2) Estonia doesn`t have its own folkfestival in every corner and every region, but its the same elsewhere ­ what is cool, must be carried on. And why not take part of the “old fashion” that has been created by our ancestry, who used to love, eat and sing it for centuries.

Yeah, one good old traditon – to eat sheep’s head ­ brings up hundreds of people over the Sweden to the south part of Gotland region. Eating animal limbs and other bodyparts is a natural custom of every traditional culture; there just wasn`t a room for wasting. The main known subproduct dishes in world are Scottish haggis, english kidney pie and why not the Estonian headcheese. In Gotland they used to rise and eat their sheeps – and especially their head.

The landscape of Gotland its just perfect for sheep breeding­ neither an ox nor an horse would grow chubby here, but sheeps who enjoy grasslands. Also neighbours west-Norwegians love lambhead – they call the dish Smalahove. And of course icelanders – besides eating seal fat, they are fond of lamb head Svið, too.

24 years ago one small local entrepreneur had a great idea ­ why not come together at the first weekend of October and enjoy the most delicious dish in the whole island (which nobody anyways has energy and time to cook at home) and have a great time to celebrate the end of the season. The main industry on Gotland is tourism. However, that idealistic company went off to run other businesses and handed this tradition to a Holmhällar’s pension.

Eating sheep’s head – lammskalle – isn’t the sole or even main part of the festival, but it’s the time to live commununity life. Very important is the competition of homemade beer’s, where 40­-50 brewers over Gotland will take part – gotlandsdricke. And, of course, most important is just to have fun!

So, there was a hundred frozen half sliced sheep heads.

First you have to put the heads in the water barrels, maybe for 4-­5 days ­ til the blood is flowen out. And of course you have to change the water over the day. I can say that after 5th day the water still wasn`t crystal clean …


Before boling the sliced half heads, it is extremely important to remove the eyelashes and other protruding bodyparts. And then will start the process when they put firewood to the fireplace and the heads will slowly start to boil… minut after minut to one hour… because the meat heas to be tenderly soft.


After the boiling, cheff will remove the polyps from the sheep’s nose… ­ yes, it’s hard to admit, but actually almost all of us have them 🙂 So, the first part is over and they give some rest to the sheep’s head ­ they put a seasalt on them and leave them waiting.


Next part of the procedure will take part in friday, thats tomorrow.

Editor: Raivo Alla


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