Bun Day


Bun Day

The Christian tradition of celebrating Bun Day seven weeks before Easter (this year on February 4) traveled to Iceland from Denmark in the 19th century. Children wake their parents up with excited shouts and encouraging spanks with homemade paddles (to ensure a goodly number of cream puffs). Click on the picture to view the audio slideshow.

Photos and narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

“Bolla, bolla, bolla,” is the wakeup call for parents on the morning of Bolludagur, or “Bun Day,” followed by encouraging spanks.

Their kids have spent hours and hours decorating their Bun Day paddles at school; according to tradition, they will get one cream-filled bun on Bun Day for every time they manage to spank their parents with their paddles.

The Christian tradition of celebrating Bun Day seven weeks before Easter (between February 2 and March 8, this year on February 4) traveled to Iceland from Denmark in the 19th century.

In many other countries the day is known as Collop Monday and does not have anything to do with eating buns.

The spanking tradition may originally be an Ash Wednesday tradition or be related to Catholic priests sprinkling their congregation with water at the beginning of Lent using special wands.

The buns eaten on Bun Day are very similar to profiteroles, made from choux pastry and are rather tricky to make.

First melt 150 grams of butter over a moderate heat. Then add 150 grams of flour and mix over the heat. Gradually add three deciliters of water, stirring the entire time. Once the mixture has come to a boil and reached a smooth, thickened consistency, remove from heat and allow it to cool.

After the dough has cooled, add two teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon salt. Then put the mixture into a bowl and beat three to four eggs into the dough, one at a time, beating the mixture carefully between eggs.

When the dough is airy and creamy use two spoons or a pastry bag to create fairly large patties on a baking tray covered with non-stick backing paper. Bake at 180°C to 200°C degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

If all goes well, the buns should expand to at least double their size in the oven. When they have a slightly golden color they are ready, but don’t take them out of the oven yet. Just turn off the heat and leave the buns there for about 30 minutes until they are dry inside. Otherwise they will collapse.

Cut the buns in two and make icing from powdered sugar, cocoa powder and a little bit of water, or melt chocolate to put on the top part of the buns. Then whip cream and add vanilla sugar, chocolate chips, caramel pudding powder (or whatever flavoring you can think of) and fill the buns. Any sort of jam will also make excellent cream puffs.

For challenged bakers, readymade choux buns can be bought in most bakeries and grocery stores, with or without icing and filling.

Bun Day is followed by Sprengidagur, the Icelandic answer to Shrove Tuesday. It means “Bursting Day” and the motto is to eat salted meat and bean stew until you burst.

Then comes Öskudagur, or Ash Wednesday, when children dress up in fancy costumes and sing for candy in stores and companies across Iceland.

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