The First Day of Summer (Sumardagurinn first) is an annual holiday celebrated in Iceland to welcome the arrival of warmer weather and longer days. This unique Icelandic tradition takes place on the first Thursday after April 18th and marks the beginning of the summer season in the country. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of the First Day of Summer and how Icelanders celebrate this special day.
The First Day of Summer has its roots in the Old Norse calendar, which divided the year into two main seasons – winter and summer. The Icelandic calendar still follows this division, and the First Day of Summer is considered a public holiday in Iceland.
While the weather in late April might still be quite chilly in Iceland, the First Day of Summer symbolizes the anticipation of warmer days, longer daylight hours, and the beauty of the Icelandic landscape coming to life.
Celebrations and Traditions
The First Day of Summer is a day of joy and celebration in Iceland. Festivities and events take place across the country, and the day is marked by various customs and traditions:
- Parades and Entertainment: Towns and cities across Iceland host parades featuring brass bands, Scouts, sports clubs, and other community organizations. The parades are usually followed by outdoor concerts and entertainment for people of all ages.
- Sports and Games: Sports competitions and games are organized in many communities, with a particular focus on children’s activities. These events encourage outdoor play, physical activity, and the enjoyment of Iceland’s natural beauty.
- Appreciation of Nature: The First Day of Summer is a time to appreciate Iceland’s stunning landscapes, as the country begins to bloom with vibrant colors, and migratory birds return from their winter homes.
- Gift-Giving: It is customary for Icelanders to exchange small gifts, known as sumargjöf (summer gift), on the First Day of Summer. These gifts are usually simple tokens of affection, such as flowers or chocolates, and are meant to spread happiness and warmth.
Conclusion: Embracing the Icelandic Summer
The First Day of Summer in Iceland is a celebration of the country’s unique cultural heritage and the beauty of its natural landscape. By marking the beginning of the summer season, Icelanders embrace the warmer weather and longer days, making the most of their incredible surroundings. The holiday serves as a reminder to appreciate nature’s wonders and the joy of spending time outdoors with loved ones.