From Iceland — "First Day Of Summer" Promises Cold Summer, According To Superstition (And Science)

“First Day Of Summer” Promises Cold Summer, According To Superstition (And Science)

Published April 22, 2020

“First Day Of Summer” Promises Cold Summer, According To Superstition (And Science)
Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Alisa Kalyanova

Tomorrow marks the “First Day of Summer”, a public holiday which has its roots in the old Norse reckoning of the seasons. There is a superstition surrounding this day, regarding its ability to predict the overall weather of the entire season, which (this year at least) is backed up by the actual scientific forecast for summer.

The First Day Of Summer always falls upon the first Thursday after April 18th. This holiday is based on the old Icelandic calendar, and marks the first day of Harpa, the first of the Náttleysi (“nightlessness”) months of this calendar. As a public holiday, schools and some other public and private services are closed—a difference which will hardly be felt this year given the current situation.

According to an old folk tradition, a warm and mild summer would be in the cards if the temperature dropped to freezing just before the First Day of Summer. As the current forecast for today and tonight shows, temperatures will remain above freezing for the entirety of Iceland, with the exception of the Highlands. Norse tradition therefore predicts a cold summer for us this year.

As it so happens, this prediction is also backed up by science. Meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson told RÚV this morning that the forecast for May and June at least shows that “it will be rather unlikely that it will be significantly warmer across the country on average. It is actually more likely to be colder.” He emphasised, though, that this is by no means an exact measurement for individual periods over these months, but a calculated average.

This being the case, it’s still too early to despair. Certain days or even weeks of the summer in Iceland this year may indeed prove warm and sunny. It still might be a good idea to not pack up your winter gear just yet.

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