The Faroese National Bird

On the day Grækarismessa the 12th of March we celebrate, that the National bird Tjaldrið (english: Oyster Catcher) is coming back to Faroe Islands after a long dark winther. We celebrate Grækarismessa with flagging, social gatherings in the public, where we listen to speeches and live music. We are so happy to see and hear the bird, because it is a sign to us about the upcoming spring. The birds arrival brings hope to us about the that the spring and summer is near.  The birds ”says” klipp, klipp”

Every year we are wondering, why the Tjaldrið is coming to the Faroe Islands, because it can not be because of the weather. If the bird knew, how happy we are for its arrival, it would surely come because of that, but it does probably arrive here to bread, because the food it need’s it here.

Grækaris means ”aware” and messa mean ”mas”, so Grækarismessa means The mas/mes of being aware, but among Faroese people it just is an expression for the arrival of the national bird and the upcoming spring.

The “Tjaldrið” comes to the Faroe Islands from the British Islands. They stick together in pairs all their life and come back to the same nest year after year. The bird is very protective and drive away other birds from the nest, when they are a threat to them.

In the poem/folk ballad ”Fuglakvæði”, our national hero ”Nólsoyar Páll” writes in the 19th century about the Tjaldrið as a symbol of the islands striven for independence, and how the faroese people have strived to protect us from foreign control. Nólsoyar Páll was born on the 11th of October 1766 in Nólsoy and was missed  on the 17th November 1808/1809, when his ship disappeered on the Sea.

Share this post