Icelanders consumed tens of thousands of cream buns on Monday in honor of Bolludagur, or Bun Day, the first of three, power-eating holidays celebrated in the run-up to Lent, RÚV reports. It’s estimated that Icelandic bakers produced around a million cream buns for the holiday, which, thanks to the ravenous appetites of bun-loving Icelanders, has recently extended into more of a multi-day bun-eating marathon, instead of the typical one-day sprint.
Bun Day, known as Shrove Monday in many other countries, takes place on the Monday before Lent. It begins early in the morning, when children all over Iceland wake their parents by spanking them with a bolluvöndur—a homemade, purpose-built rod topped with colorful paper tassels—and yelling “bolla, bolla, bolla!” Tradition has it that children will receive a bun for every spank they successfully deliver.
“I’ve been here since 8PM on Sunday evening,” baker Axel Gunnar Vatnsdal, proprietor of Axel’s Bakery in Akureyri, told RÚV in an interview on Monday morning. He said that in his shop, Bun Day has become ‘Bun Week,’ and that his staff had been baking buns for seven or eight days straight. Axel and his bakers made the traditional vatnsdeigsbollur, which are similar to choux buns, in many different varieties, such as Irish Coffee, strawberry, and chocolate, as well as the doughier, Berliner-style cream filled buns. Axel estimated that his bakery had produced 20,000 buns this year. Nevertheless, they completely sold out on the holiday itself.
The Lenten celebrations continue on Tuesday, with Sprengidagur, or Bursting Day, in which Icelanders gorge on saltkjöt og baunir, or salted lamb and pea soup. And then on Wednesday comes Öskudagur, or Ash Wednesday, in which Icelandic children dress in costumes and sing songs in return for candy. (Watch a video about Öskudagur here.)