Öskudagur (“Ash Day”) was celebrated among children in Iceland yesterday with fancy costumes, singing and candy. IR photographer Páll Stefánsson caught a few witches, clowns and cowboys on camera in Reykjavík.
Ash Wednesday, originally a Catholic holiday, marks the beginning of Lent and is celebrated seven weeks before Easter, as described on visindavefur.hi.is.
While the day is a religious celebration involving ash (which is considered holy by the Bible) in some countries, it gives children in Iceland an opportunity to obtain free candy.
Older traditions involve pinning bags of ash onto people’s backs without them noticing. Nowadays, children are given the day off from school to dress up in costumes and sing in stores and companies in exchange for candy.
In the northeastern town of Akureyri, where Ash Day was first celebrated on the island, a pinata is hoisted in the town square and children takes turns “beating the cat out of the barrel” as it is called.