Bolludagur — or Bun Day — kicks of a three-day stretch of extravagance and deliciousness before the beginning of Lent. Held on Shrove Monday (February 28 this year), the holiday starts early, with children waking their parents by smacking them with decorated paddles and yelling “bolla, bolla, bolla!,” after which the eponymous pastry is devoured. This simple cream-filled choux pastry is often drizzled with chocolate or customized with any variety of toppings and fillings.
Delicious recipes can be found here, here, or here, (or just google “Icelandic bolla”).
Following the indulgence of Bolludagur, folks fill their bellies during Sprengidagur (or Bursting Day, March 1), Iceland’s answer to Fat Tuesday. The traditional food is saltkjöt og baunir, or salted-meat and split-pea soup (recipe here, or here.)
The trio of festive food holidays draws to a close with Öskudagur (Ashes Day, or Ash Wednesday), when chidden dress in costume and visit shops, asking for candy. Unlike American Halloween, Icelandic children earn their sweet treats with a song.
Have a sweet treat, remembering that the harshness of winter will soon be at an end.
Konudagur, or Wive’s Day, marks the beginning of the old Icelandic holiday of Góa, the fifth month of winter. For poets in a nation filled with poets, Góa is the personification of winter and the wife of King Þorri (for which the preceding month is possibly named, also a harsh and powerful personification of winter).
Traditionally on this day, the man of the farm would step into the snow, lightly-dressed, to welcome Góa into the barn, hoping she will be generous and the winter weather relent. When men started to travel away from home for work-related reasons, the women of the house took on this responsibility, welcoming Góa with this poem:
“Velkomin sértu, góa mín,
og gakktu í bæinn;
vertu ekki úti í vindinum
(“Welcome, my dear Góa,
and come inside;
don’t stay out in the wind,
oh summer day.”)
In its modern iteration, husbands present their spouses with presents or flowers and arrange for delicious cakes (if he himself is all thumbs in the kitchen) on konudagur.