Quirky winter traditions

11/02/2021 12:02

When Iceland picked up Christianity approximately 1000 years ago, we also picked up some new and quirky traditions and here's an introduction to three of them. These winter traditions are celebrated one after the other in February.


Bolludagur or Bun day is the first one and named after a delicious chocolate glazed cream puff. Bun Day always falls on a Monday six weeks prior to Easter and the tradition came to Iceland from Norway and Denmark and marks the start of Lent. Lent being the time of self denial; what makes perfect more sense then to self-indulge for the 3 days prior in puff pastry buns filled with jam and whipped cream, topped with chocolate glaze? Traditionally local families will bake their own buns but you will find all sorts of buns in bakeries and grocery stores with variety of fillings and toppings. Another interesting tradition associated with Bolludagur is that children in kindergarten make wooden decorated paddles that they spank their parents with while yelling ‘Bolla, bolla, bolla’ and then they get a bun.



Next day and the day before Lent and second day of overindulgence. On Sprengidagur it is custom to eat a Lental Soup accompanied with salted Meat, potatoes and other root vegetables, a dish called ‘Saltkjöt og Baunir’. This meal is very savory and filling and although Icelanders don’t celebrate Lent by fasting anymore, the tradition of overeating Saltkjöt og Baunir on Sprengidagur is still very much alive.



The last but not the least is Ash Wednesday, the kid's favorite. The Icelandic tradition associated with this day is a bit strange. Young women would try and pin small pouches filled with ash onto the boy they fancied without them noticing. Today however, Ash Wednesday has turned into more of a Halloween where children will dress up and go from house to house or store to store singing in hopes of receiving candy.

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