Iceland’s Official First Day of Summer

Magazine Iceland’s Official First Day of Summer

For many of us, the summer months are basically June, July, August and September. Without going into a detailed geography lesson, In the Northern Hemisphere the Summer Solstice, which is around June 21, marks the beginning of summer. And, the Fall Equinox, which is around September 23rd, marks the end.

However, in Iceland the official first day of summer (Sumardagurinn fyrsti) comes quite a bit earlier.  In Iceland the first day of summer is the first Thursday after April 18.  This is an ancient holdover from the Old Norse Calendar that split the year into two seasons, winter and summer.

But, just because it’s “officially” summer according to the old Norse calendar, don’t expect the weather to be summer-like.  But for Icelanders this is still a very happy day as it signals the end of a long winter and the hopeful knowledge that summer weather isn’t too far off.

The day is an annual public holiday and Icelanders celebrate this first day of summer all around the country with parades, sporting events and outdoor entertainment.  You’ll also hear Icelander’s telling each other, “Gledileg sumar!” (merry/happy summer).  If you happen to be in Iceland around this time and you hear this you can say, sömuleiðis! (likewise. pronounced: su ma ley this)

There you have it, Iceland’s official first day of summer and some explanation why it is so out of synch with much of the rest of the world. Spend in a little time in our beautiful, but sometimes frosty country, you’ll understand why we’ve stuck with this hopeful and inspiring tradition!  Cheers from Icelandair Hotels, Iceland’s premiere hotel chain.

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