The Market Square, called ‘Torget’, is a very important part of the community in Norway. It is the central gathering place where most public ceremonies and official public business takes place. Most festivals utilise this area and of course it is a space for farmers and crafts-folk to sell their products straight to the public.
In Viking times the market place was very important to the economy of the community. The Vikings often stopped off to buy supplies from Smithies, leather and woodworkers before making their way to England for their pillaging and plundering escapades. Magic mushrooms were a favourite among Vikings as a foaming mouth made them look very fierce and the effects also gave them courage. Traders brought spices from the East to barter for prized salt, fish, meat and skin. Merchants sold trinkets made from copper and metal while farmers traded wool and fresh produce.
In the Tromsø torget you will find a statue of a whaler in a boat – Fangstmonument (Arctic Hunter). He is battling rough seas while trying to spear a sea creature. The monument was erected in memory of the whalers and fishers who lost their lives in the Arctic ocean. The Tromsø torget, by the docks, was the main gathering place for the local seamen – it was where they set out on their hazardous journeys, some never to return. These people formed the foundation of Tromsø and turned it into a growing and thriving city.
The idea for the monument came in 1952. Over the course of this one winter over 100 men perished at sea, of them, 80 were whalers. Fangstmonument, made of all bronze, was created by Sivert Donali and wasn’t officially unveiled until 1984.
Christmas is a fantastic time in the Market Square. The market stalls aren’t scared away by the snow and ice so you can still buy special Norwegian wool products, fresh produce (there is always a fish stall with the days best catch) and handy-crafts and trinkets. There is often a fresh fried Norwegian donuts stall – ‘Smultring’. These are not the same as your American Donuts. The direct translation is ‘Lard Rings’ and are a thick heavy dough fried in lard – best eaten while hot and with the grease still dripping!
Especially on Saturdays you will often find a gløgg stall. An open fire warms up the Christmas drink and shoppers stop by to warm up their hands and their bellies. The gløgg is usually served with almonds and raisins, and pepperkake.