Öskudagur; a day of fancy dress, singing for sweeties, and pinning bags of ash to people. Of course.


Bolludagur was the first day, a day of cream filled buns, then Sprengidagur when you eat so much you feel like you might explode. Today is Öskudagur, Ash Wednesday, and one of joy, bags of Ash and sweeties.

A video of modern day Icelandic kids singing in fancy dress for candy from the Grapevine

What happens on öskudagur?

Ash Wednesday is celebrated throughout the Christian world but Icelanders have given their own twist to it. For a long time people would try to pin a little bag of ash (or grain if you don’t have any ash lying around – thanks to the geothermic heating) to unknowing peoples backs as a little prank, but understandably, as this didn’t involve getting treats, it is decidedly less common in modern times than kids dressing up in costumes and walking from shop to shop singing for sweets.

The tradition as a whole has been going on for centuries, probably brought from Norway and Denmark, though some parts of it like ‘beating the cat out of the barrel‘ have largely disappeared.

Image from Iceland Monitor

We hope you enjoyed learning about the awesome festival of oskudagur we have here in Iceland. We hope you can visit us some day soon and join in!

This day is often referred to as ‘Icelandic Halloween’ but it’s so much more than that. Whilst Halloween celebrations do now occur in Iceland this is a far bigger event for the whole community. Its a charming day without the ‘trick or treat’ blackmailing for candy that the American version of Halloween is known for.

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