Despite the fact that it’s still only April and it snowed last week, tomorrow is the first day of summer.
Celebrated on the first Thursday after April 18, it 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 perhaps only thought of two seasons, summer and winter, much like other cultures noted a rainy and dry season.
Ordinarily April is a month filled with rain, harsh winds and second winters, but this year’s forecast for the first day of summer is overwhelmingly positive, with mild winds and 11°C (51.8°F) in the capital. This may not be a good sign, however, as folklore holds that if the night between the last day of winter and the first day of summer freeze together, summer will be a good one. But perhaps we shouldn’t put too much faith in such superstition as last year’s freeze did not signal a good summer — in fact it was one of our worst ever.
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 12. But that total is not too bad compared the United States’ 10 federal holidays, England and Wales’ eight and Scotland’s nine bank holidays.
There are a few events to check out if you’ve got free time. The City of Reykjavík’swebpage has a list of family friendly events including bouncy castles, parades, face painting and even free entry to the Árbæjarlaug swimming pool.
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