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Today Icelanders celebrate "blast day": Feast on lentil soup and salt lamb 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 string of festivities of bolludagur, sprengidagur and öskudagur. The first of the three days, bolludagur, is 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 fatty lamb meat, the primary meat Icelandic peasants and farmers relied on during the dark days of winter, 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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