Since it's October, I figure I should write about something spooky. But then I figured people might be interested in the Icelandic spooky traditions instead.
It's not really that spooky (I'll try to find something really spooky for the next post)
Generally, we Icelanders celebrate Halloween but we also celebrate our version of Ash Wednesday.
The main difference between Halloween and Ash Wednesday is that Icelandic children go to stores in costumes and sing songs in order to get free candy. Then afterwards there's a celebration downtown where children line up to beat a barrel where a cat is contained.
For the longest time, I actually had no idea why we "hit the cat out of the barrel" as we called it.
So I did some quick research and....I discovered something awful.
As you probably know Ash Wednesday is connected to Christian and Catholic religion where people fast until Easter. However, it was also believed that witches roamed around that time as well. Cats were often believed to be the familiar of witches.
So people would sometimes torture and kill cats in order to expel any kind of evil they suspected to be around at that time. In Germany, they would throw cats down from churchtowers and that tradition somehow traveled to Denmark during the 19th century where we get most of our traditions.
How that horrid tradition transferred from throwing cats out of churchtowers to beating them to death in a barrel is beyond me. Here in Iceland, the cat was apparently never alive in the barrel. We used either a dead cat or a dead raven.
THANKFULLY we've stopped that tradition and the barrel is now just filled with candy, similar to a pinata.
To be honest, I'd prefer that we just walked in stores and sang for candy...
Question of the day: Do you have any unusual Halloween traditions?