From Iceland — Stuff We Like!

Stuff We Like!

Published February 15, 2010

Stuff We Like!

Cream-filled buns + salty salty mutton + begging for candy in a costume = F.U.N! Let’s imagine the previous statement requires explanation (it doesn’t)…
Today Icelanders celebrate everyone’s favourite holiday, Bolludagur (“Bun Day”). What does Bolludagur involve? Let me tell you: it involves eating many, many delightful, cream-filled pastries. If you are a kid, there’s a bonus in it for you, as you are expected to start the day off by surprising your parents in bed and spanking them awake with a so-called spanking wand (seriously). The number of spanks you bestow will determine the number of buns you receive. What a delightful way to start the day!
Lots of folks make their own buns to eat, but some opt for getting them at the bakery (as we did at the GV office earlier today – SPOILER: no one got spanked at the office). The good people of Iceland Review have put together a fine multimedia guide on how to bake your own bollur – go look at it over here.
The fun doesn’t end here. Not by a long shot.
See, tomorrow Icelanders celebrate BURSTING DAY! Yes, bursting day! Well, they call it Sprengidagur, but Sprengidagur means “bursting day”! And that’s… pretty cool.
What does one get up to on bursting day, you ask? Well, the name derives from the fact that you are expected to stuff yourself with SALTKJÖT OG BAUNIR (salty mutton + split pea soup) until you reach your bursting point (optimally, you would literally burst. Burst like a balloon in a cactus factory. But that is probably even less healthy than the salty meat itself, and that’s pretty unhealthy already).
And why would we do this? Why would we stuff ourselves with salty mutton and salty pea soup until our salty stomachs burst? Aside from the fact that both items are pretty delicious (especially if you serve mashed potatoes as a side), that is? Well, in Catholic countries, they like to fast for a while before Easter. And what do you do before you fast? Yes, you stuff yourself with meat. Since Iceland used to be a Catholic country (before we went all Lutheran), we like to celebrate the stuffing-oneself aspect of the fast, while ignoring the fast itself. Double-win!
If you are interested in trying your hand at BURSTING DAY, you can check out Iceland Review’s multimedia guide to that whole shtick. Right here.
There’s more fun to be had this week, as the day after brings Ash Wednesday celebrations. They can pretty much be summed up as the Icelandic version of Halloween, without the pagan undertones. Children dress in costumes and walk from store to store, seeking candy. But rather than just being able to put their hands out and be given the candy, the beauty of Öskudagur is that children are expected to earn their candy by singing a song. By the end of the day, though, the bloom is off the rose and most kids will rush through a mumbled version of whatever song they’ve already sung dozens of times that day.
Fun times!
Pic nabbed from Ísfjörður’s finest news source,

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