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Iceland Mag

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Today Icelanders celebrate "blast day": You are supposed to eat salt mutton until you burst!

By Staff

  • A traditional feast These two gentlemen took a break from their salt mutton with a side of potatoes and rutabaga and a bowl of thick lentil soup to smile for the photographer. Photo/Pjetur

Today Icelanders celebrate "sprengidagur", or "blast day", the second day in the three day holiday of "bolludagur", "sprengidagur" and "öskudagur". While bolludagur was a celebration of sweet cream buns, sprengidagur involves feasting on a far saltier and fattier delicacy: salted mutton with a side dish of lentil soup.

Read more: Today is "Bolludagur": The peculiar Icelandic holiday "Cream Bun Day"

Last feast before Lent
Sprengidagur is the Icelandic equivalence of Mardi Gras, the last great feast before the onset of Lent. According to Icelandic tradition this feast is supposed to involve salted mutton, the primary meat Icelandic peasants and farmers would have relied on, and lentil soup. In Icelandic this dish is called "saltkjöt og baunir”, or salt-meat and beans. 

Since Lent was traditionally observed by fasting people would take opportunity of this last great feast of meat by eating their fill and overindulge. Many would eat to the brink of bursting, hence the name of the day, "blast day": On this day you eat until you burst.

While Icelanders do not celebrate Lent by fasting anymore, the tradition of over-eating on Sprengidagur is still very much alive and well.

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