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Today, February 14, Icelanders celebrate "Öskudagur", a day when kids dress up in costumes and then visit stores and offices to sing in exchange for candy and treats. Although the manner of observing Öskudagur does not seem to have much to do with Christianity, it is originally a Christian holiday, Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent.
A strange tradition involving bags filled with ashes
The Icelandic tradition surrounding this day is somewhat fanciful; Young women would try and pin little bags filled with ashes onto the back of the young man they fancied without the subject of their infatuation noticing. Young men would try and do the same, but with pouches filled with pebbles.
This tradition has disappeared in recent decades as Öskudagur has slowly become an Icelandic version of Halloween. Now Icelanders celebrate Öskudagur by dressing themselves or their kids up in fancy costumes. Kids then go from store to store, singing in hopes of receiving candy. Most children will sing simple tunes taught at their preschools or schools, but the more ambitious will compose their own lyrics to well known songs or even come up with more elaborate performances.
Some parents and grown-ups also join in on the fun! You can explore some of the costumes on Instagram.
While store bought costumes are popular, many parents and kids spend hours or days crating elaborate home-made costumes:
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