It’s that time of year again: time to head to your local bakery and buy yourself a half dozen bollur to eat by yourself in your car while questioning every life decision you ever made.
This is the first of the Holy Trinity of the Icelandic holidays of glutton, followed by Sprengidagur and then Öskudagur, known elsewhere as Ash Wednesday. Because you can’t start Lent, the Christian time of atonement and austerity, without getting all that greed out of your system first.
The tradition dates back to at least the 17th century in Denmark, although the holiday in its current form in Iceland gained prominence in the 19th century. While the tradition of eating fatty foods before Lent can be found around the world, this is usually done on the Tuesday before Lent (you might be familiar with this due to Mardi Gras). In Iceland, though, Bolludagur is officially on a Monday, but usually celebrated on the Sunday before it, on account of Sunday being a perfect day for laying about eating pastries.
The pastries have different variations in different Scandinavian countries. The Icelandic version traditionally employs a simple choux pastry (although simpler roll version exist), sliced in half with jam and a generous helping of whipped cream inside, and topped with chocolate. Today, fancier bakeries run with this basic theme to come up with their own takes on the treat (as can be seen above).
Even if you don’t observe Lent, or maybe aren’t even Christian, literally no one will stop you from indulging in bollur on this day. You earned it.
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