Happy First Day Of Summer! - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Happy First Day Of Summer!

Published April 25, 2013

Today is the first day of summer and you may be wondering what that means, it is April after all.

Contrary to what you might imagine, it’s not a sardonic meme that everyone picked up on simultaneously after the sudden snow at the end of April, but a national holiday. It is celebrated on the first Thursday after April 18, and is supposed to mark (you guessed it) the point where summer begins.

Given how much winter bleeds into spring and summer into autumn, Icelanders in the olden days only thought of two seasons, summer and winter, much like other countries noted a rainy and dry season. Folklore holds that if the night between the last day of winter and the first day of summer freeze together, that the summer will be a good one. This holiday was of course invented before Icelanders had anything resembling modern weather forecasting techniques, but is still celebrated, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Icelanders are big on national holidays, and have a whopping eighteen such days each year. Before you go celebrating how great we have it, note that two of them are only half days off (Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve), a couple always happen on Sundays, and some can occur on weekends. This brings the total number of days off from work down to eight to twelve. But it’s not too bad compared to England and Wales’ eight days, Scotland’s nine and the United States’ 10.

There are a few events to check out if you’ve got free time. The City of Reykjavík’s webpage has a list of family friendly events including barbeques (hot dogs), free entry to the Árbæjarlaug swimming pool and a number of parades. There are also art workshops at the National Museum of Iceland.

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