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05/01/2019 12:00
Top players from #EuroVolleyU16W qualifier to travel home with copy of selkie bride
2019 CEV U16 Volleyball European Championship - Women

Torshavn, Faroe Islands, January 5, 2019. After the last game of the #EuroVolleyU16W qualifier scheduled for Sunday in Torshavn, the organisers will award the best players of the competition, whose winners qualify for the Final Round due to take place later this year in Italy and Croatia. The most outstanding players of the tournament held in the North Atlantic will be receiving a piece of not only Faroese history but a remembrance of world’s history as well.

The trophies are made out of stone but on top of the stone, there is a woman half dressed. That is the so-called selkie bride, based on the statue, made by artist Hans Pauli Olsen, standing on the outer part of the beach in Mikladalur in the northern part of the Faroe Islands.

The story of the selkie bride is not only a Faroese legend. It is known all around the world somewhere in the same version as in the Faroe Islands, elsewhere in a different one. However, the basis is the same, a fairy tale about a man meeting a woman from a different world.

Seal people are humans who took their own lives by drowning in the sea. According to legend, once a year, on the eve of Three Kings, the seal people gather on the shore in Mikladalur. They shed their sealskins, become human again, and dance the night away. Before the sun rises, they slip back into their skins and disappear into the ocean.

A young man from Mikladalur, who wanted to see if the legend was true, hid behind a rock on the shore. Among the seal people, he saw an exceptionally beautiful woman. While the seal people were dancing, he snuck out of his hiding place and stole her sealskin to prevent her from going back into the sea.

Before the sun came up, the seal people put on their sealskins, and one by one jumped into the water. At last, only the seal woman was left, crying because she could not find her skin. Finally, the man came forward and told her that her only option was to come with him.

The statue of the selkie bride that stands at Mikladalur, Faroe Islands.

They went to his house. The man locked the sealskin in a chest and kept the key tied to his belt at all times. The man and the seal woman lived together as husband and wife, and they had children.

One day when the man was out fishing, he noticed that the key was missing. He shouted out in agony “My wife will leave me today!”. The men rowed back to Mikladalur as fast as possible to prevent the woman from leaving, but when the man came home, he saw his children sitting on the bench. The fire was cold, and all sharp objects were hidden from the children, so that they would not hurt themselves. The chest was open, and the sealskin was missing along with the seal woman.

The years passed but one night before the men in Mikladalur were to go on a seal hunt, the seal woman came to the man in his dreams. She begged him to have mercy on her husband and their two sons. She told him what they looked like and where in the cave they would be found. However, the man ignored the dream, and along with the men of Mikladalur, he killed all the seals in the cave.

The man got his share of the killing, and when he came home, he cooked the seal meat for himself and the children. While they were eating, the door was ripped open, and the seal woman entered the room as a terrifying troll.  She shouted, “Here lies the head of my mate and the hands and feet of my sons. You have had your revenge – and now revenge shall visit the men of Mikladalur. Some will drown at sea, others will fall from the cliffs, and so it shall continue until as many have perished as can link arms around the whole island of Kalsoy”. After cursing the man and the village, the seal woman disappeared, never to be seen again.

A great number of men from Mikladalur have lost their lives by falling from cliffs or drowning at sea. Yet they are still too few to link arms around Kalsoy. Therefore, the seal woman’s curse still stands unfulfilled.

On the shore of Mikladalur stands a statue of the seal woman. Holding the sealskin in her hand, she gazes at the rocky ground where the legend has it that the seal people dance once a year.

After Sunday, she will be reminding the best players from the U16 women’s European qualifier of their trip to the Faroe Islands.

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