Today is Bun Day in Iceland!

A typical cream bun or "bolla"

A typical cream bun or "bolla" Sverrir Vilhelmsson

To mark the beginning of Lent, Icelanders celebrate with three days next week: Bolludagur on Monday, Sprengidagur on Tuesday and Öskudagur on Wednesday. Bolludagur, or bun day is a day to feast on cream-filled buns.

The custom is believed to originate from Danish and Norwegian bakeries in the middle of the nineteenth century.  The tradtion in Iceland is for young children to make a bolluvöndur, a home-made spanking stick with colourful paper tassels and on the morning of bolludagur the children wake up their parents by spanking them. The number of spanks they are able to give amounts to the number of bollur they will receive throughout the day.

There are two types of bollur popular in Iceland, the vatnsdeigsbolla which is similar to an éclair or a choux pastry, or the regular bolla made with regular dough. Both are available at bakeries all around the country on Monday.

Buns at an Icelandic bakery.

Buns at an Icelandic bakery. Haraldur Jónasson/Hari

Here at Iceland Monitor we prefer the former version, which is lighter and fluffier. You can experiment with different fillings such as custard, jam, strawberry or chocolate whipped cream or elegant rhubarb and ginger. The bun is usually topped with a chocolate or caramel glaze.

Every bakery in town will do the job for you offering traditional and more cutting-edge bollur, such as the delicious concoctions in the accompanying photograph offered up by delux cake shop Sautján sortir at the Grandi harbour area of Reykjavik.

To complete "bolludagur" people like to eat other types of "bolla" for dinner ,  including "fiskibolla" (fish balls) and "kjötbolla" (meatballs).  Fish balls are made from minced haddock, chopped onion and egg and are fried in butter and eaten with potatoes.   Meatballs in Iceland are traditionally served with red cabbage, potatoes and gravy with a dollop of jam on the side.

Tomorrow, Tuesday is Sprengidagur, a day when people traditionally eat a hearty soup made of split peas and salted meat, and on Ash Wednesday, children dress up in fancy dress.


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