It’s April 19th and the sun is shining. Laugavegur has been converted into one giant water slide. If you are not jumping into the massive swimming pool at Hljómskálagarðurinn, you are getting a sunburn chilling on the sun lounger at Loft Hostel. It‘s too hot to wear T-shirts so all the tank tops at Spúútnik are sold out. People are eating ice-cream with extra-large spoons because it is melting way too fast.
Indeed, summer comes early in Iceland. Who would have thought?
Too good to be true
Like something right out of a good fantasy book, this is but a dream. What is actually true, though, is that the first Thursday after every April 18th has been a national holiday in Iceland since 1971.
It is celebrated as Sumardagurinn Fyrsti, or the First Day of Summer. While it is a tradition to wake up on that particular day and see the newly fallen snow in the streets of Reykjavík, this day brings a certain sentiment to the city and to Iceland in general. Even though the weather is far from being summer-like (I mean, is it ever?!), Icelanders still celebrate this day with various events, such as parades and other organised entertainment. And yes, you might even spot Icelanders wearing short pants and T-shirts, mostly to make a point, and because…why the hell not?
The vikings are to blame
The reason for all this fuss is that the traditionally used Old Norse calendar was only divided into two seasons—winter and summer. It is even said that if the temperature drops below zero the night before the first day of summer, a great summer will be ahead. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, so we’re screwed (again). No pain, no gain, right? We at the Reykjavík Grapevine wish you a great summer!