Friday night folklore: Water to wine

Last Friday I posted a tale of how Öxará got its name. Here is another folk tale about the same river:

It was believed that the water in the river Öxará would turn to wine for one hour every year.

Once upon a time two priests were up and awake in Þingvellir on New Year’s Eve. One was a young man who was writing a sermon for the New Year’s Day mass, and the other was an old man who was keeping his colleague company.

Around midnight the young priest had become very thirsty and so he went out with a bottle which he filled with water from the river. But when he came back to his lodgings, he noticed that the water was wine-coloured. Upon tasting it, he found that it was indeed wine, and of good quality too. Both priests had a drink from the bottle and then put it on the windowsill and went on with their work.

A short time later they took the bottle, intending to enjoy the wine that was left in the bottle, but all they found was pure and clear water. This greatly surprised them, and was the basis of many discussions between them. The younger priest decided to see what the water in the river would be like on the following New Year’s Eve.

Time passed, and finally it was New Year’s Eve again. Both priests were up and about and around midnight the young priest took a bottle to the river and filled it with water. When he got back home it seemed to him that the water was blood-coloured.

He took a sip and tasted blood. He then put away the bottle for a while, but when he looked at it again there was only water in it.

Again the priests found much to discuss in this, and were unable to account for the change from water to wine to water to blood and back to water.

But there was a belief that the river would turn to blood instead of wine when a great many men would be killed during the assembly. The story goes that this was the case in the following spring, when a battle was fought with a large number of casualties.


New years Eve and Midsummer Night's Eve are traditionally times of unusual goings-on such as are related in the above tale.

Copyright notice: The wording used to tell this folk-tale is under copyright. The story itself is not copyrighted. If you want to re-tell it, for a collection of folk-tales, incorporate it into fiction, use it in a school essay or any kind of publication, please tell it in your own words or give the proper attribution if you choose to use the wording unchanged.


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