Tomorrow marks the first Thursday after April 18th. While to anyone else in the world, this fact means nothing, in Iceland it can only mean one thing: the First Day of “Summer”.
This has been an official holiday in Iceland since 1971, but traces its roots back to the Old Norse tradition of dividing the year into two seasons: summer and winter. While the ancient Scandinavians were very much aware of equinoxes and solstices, they likely took a more practical approach in how they partitioned the seasons of the year. Which is why even though we are only about a month into spring, as per the previous equinox, as far as Icelanders are concerned it will be “summer” tomorrow.
According to the latest weather forecast, tomorrow promises to be quite warm and either partly or mostly sunny for most of the country. Think this bodes well for the summer to come? Too bad, it means the opposite. Icelandic superstition dictates that it takes a cold First Day of “Summer”–colloquially called “summer and winter freezing together”–for the summer to come to be a nice one.
This is, of course, not an exact science. There is no hard data on how often summer and winter freezing together has led to a nice summer. Perhaps the superstition arose to comfort people who complained when the First Day of “Summer” turned out cold and rainy. Who knows?
In any event, the First Day of “Summer” has practical effects, in that schools will be closed, and some businesses may also be closed or have limited hours of operation. Supermarkets should be open, though.
Regardless of how you spend the day, don’t be “that person” who points out that the summer solstice isn’t until June. Icelanders are well aware. Let them have this. Go get an ice cream and enjoy the day.
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