Today is the second of Iceland’s Holy Trinity Of Gluttonous Holidays leading up to Lent, Sprengidagur.
You really don’t have to do anything special on this day apart from eat a lot of salted meat and split bean soup. It might seem uncouth to gorge on dessert on one day and follow it up with savoury stuff the day after, but that’s just how it is here in Iceland.
During the time of the earliest mentions of Sprengidagur, in the mid 18th century, smoked lamb was typically eaten. In those days, salt was actually in short supply, but by the late 19th century, salted lamb replaced its smoked counterpart as the main course for this holiday meal.
Contrary to popular belief, Sprengidagur does not actually mean “bursting day” or “exploding day”, as we have sometimes ourselves reported.
It turns out, the “sprengi” part is probably derived from the German word “sprengen”, which was adopted by Norwegian and refers to the practice of sprinkling holy water on people attending mass.
People probably weren’t sprinkling holy water on their meat and beans before eating it in ye olden tymes, but as this is the day before Ash Wednesday, they were probably going to church to get their Lent repentance in early. And they were also likely blessing their food, in their own way, before eating it.
Whether you observe Lent or not, if you do eat meat, enjoy Sprengidagur responsibly. All that sodium isn’t great for you, after all.
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