Bunday, Burstday and Ashday are three winter holidays which are celebrated over a three day period in Iceland each year.
These days are a huge part of Icelandic culture. Celebrating the best Iceland has to offer in various ways. The great part about this three day celebration is its diversity. Fun and satisfaction is the main point of these days, and we of course would like everyone traveling to Iceland to enjoy them with us.
With that being said, let’s go over each day one by one and explain what they are all about.
On this Monday it is tradition to eat buns. For pastry lovers this is clearly the highpoint of the year. Icelanders love their buns and consume a crazy amount of buns, cream and toppings on this day each year.
The traditional bun, called “bolla” in Icelandic is served with whipped cream and jam filling and topped off with chocolate. There are of course hundreds of other versions but that is the original “bolla” bun.
Another tradition on Bunday Monday is that children make special Bunday paddles or wands. The children then use these wands to wake up their parents and spank them while yelling “bolla, bolla, bolla!” For each hit they get, the parents owe them a “bolla” bun.
In a way Burst day is the Icelandic version of the world famous Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. This day is celebrated with a feast where it is tradition to eat so much that you feel like you´re going to burst. Hence the name Burst Tuesday.
Lamb is of course the dish of choice on Burst day in Iceland. The traditional Icelandic Burst day dish is salty lamb and bean soup, served with white sauce and root vegetables. This is a heavy meal and quite fitting to the purpose of this tradition.
The third and last day of this winter celebration is Ash Wednesday. On this day children in Iceland dress up in costumes and collect candy.
During the day children will go to local businesses and sing a song. In return they are given candy.
Another tradition on Ash Wednesday is called hitting the cat out of the barrel. A wooden barrel is decorated and filled with sweets. The barrel is then hung up and kids form a line and hit it with a club. Once the barrel is cracked open the kids rush to collect the candy that falls out.
Icelandic take on old traditions
Although Monday Bunday, Burst Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are always celebrated in the same row there is no name for them as one winter celebration in Iceland.
They are always celebrated seven weeks before Easter but other than that they do not have any religious connection. At least not in Iceland today.
Like many holidays and traditions in Iceland these celebrations were brought from Denmark, somewhere in the 19th century. At that time Iceland was still under Danish rule and heavily influenced by Danish culture.
As there was an extreme difference between the society in the two countries, some adaptations had to be made in Iceland.
This has developed over time to become some of the most celebrated events of the year in Iceland. Celebrating Icelandic culture and tradition in its own unique way.
Travel to Iceland in Winter
Make sure to prepare for winter when traveling to Iceland in February. Iceland is amazing in winter but it is cold and if you intend on having a great time on your winter vaction you will need winter outfits and a good rental car in Iceland.Back