The Icelandic parliament is the oldest parliament in the world. It was established in 930AD.
Its original site was situated in the wide tectonic rift between the two continents of America and Europe. Uncanny hey?
Each summer clan leaders would ride on horseback for days to convene there. In two weeks of talks and negotiations they would resolve all the issues for the year.
A cynic might say that leaders of the modern British parliament break for two weeks each summer and spend the rest of the year in talks and negotiations but still fail to resolve anything meaningful. But that would be truly cynical.
Today is Shrove Tuesday, or in Icelandic, Sprengidagur – or Exploding Day: that is, people eat so much until they almost explode (as they prepare to begin their fast tomorrow).
Today is Bun Monday
In Iceland, the day before Shrove Tuesday is known as Bun Monday. On this day all the children eat buns (bol) – these are choir buns filled with cream and jam and topped with chocolate, much like a giant profiterole.
On Bun Monday the children wake early and armed with colourful wands run into their parents’ bedrooms hoping to catch them unaware, for they must strive to smack their parents’ behinds with the wand. For each successful thwack they will be rewarded with a bun. You can imagine the mayhem, and laughter.
On Shrove Tuesday in preparation for fasting, rather than pancakes, Icelanders serve salt lamb and thick pea soup.
Ash Wednesday sees the local children dress up in fancy costumes and go around all the shops singing and are rewarded with candy.
Traditionally on this day they also play ‘Hitting the cat out of the barrel’ – something like a crazy piñata, only nowadays, thankfully, the cat has been replaced by toffees and candies.