Quandary: Who is Ullr? | SummitDaily.com

Quandary: Who is Ullr?

Ullr, the Norse god of snow, reigns supreme in Breck during January with his own parade and festival.
Mark Fox / special to the daily |


Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.

Dear Quandary,

Who is Ullr?

Was he the founder of No Shave November? Or the first to adorn a hat with horns? Probably not, but Marvel fans can still rejoice! The great Ullr comes from a blended family, according to Norse mythology; he is the son of Sif and stepson to Thor. When it comes to a new daddy, you could do a heck of a lot worse than a demi-god, though I’m sure there were still issues — Ullr leaving skates around the house, the question of whether it’s appropriate to have hammers around small children. You know, the usual stuff.

One way or another, Ullr grew into his own, and went on to become the Norse god of winter. Some Norse mythologists also credit him as the god of snow and skiing, which was enough to make him a major player in early paganism and in Breckenridge. There’s a legend that Ullr would ski the entire world, coating it with snow each year, as he was the only god who knew how to ski.

It’s possible this old goat has seen the mighty Ullr laying tracks, but in Summit, it’s hard to say for sure. Here you can often find a Viking, or horde of them, gliding down the mountain, maybe even accompanied by a banana and a gorilla. Once you add the layers and snow-coated beards, it’s really hard to tell the difference between anyone — I might not even recognize my own kids. Regardless, each year Breckenridge hosts a festival in January to help welcome the tidings of winter and to honor Ullr.

Ullrfest has occurred in early January every year since 1963, and this year marks no exception.

The festivities begin early Saturday morning, when the more athletic worshippers traverse the trails at the Gold Run Nordic Center as part of a new fat-bike racing series. The Kingdom will continue to rejoice Jan. 11-14 with a variety of activities designed to keep the flakes falling and the snow gods happy. Check GoBreck.com for a full list of events, including another attempt at the world’s longest shot ski, a parade and the annual bonfire — luckily all the day before the hangover breakfast.

Call it a silly superstition if you will, but it never hurts to hedge some bets and suck up to the snow god. This proves especially important in a place where snow dominates the landscape for at least six months a year and lures visitors from around the world to rip through its powder. So next time you hit the slopes, take a turn for Ullr — and tip your cap to Thor for helping to raise such a fine young god.

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