Iceland has several fun public holidays in its calendars. Yet, few are as specifically Icelandic as today, which is ‘Sumardagurinn fyrsti’, The First Day of Summer. An April celebration of the arrival of Iceland’s shortest and most anticipated season.

Iceland isn’t blessed with too many hot, sunny days; which is why there is cause to celebrate when the long-awaited summer rears its beautiful head. Icelanders rejoice when the days get longer, and they’ll eventually turn into 24-hour daylight with midnight sun. 


See also: Iceland in April


harpa

Harpa Concert Hall in summer. Photo: Arnar Freyr Tómasson.

An idyllic promise of warmer weather is what the First Day of Summer is. There is only one problem; The First Day of Summer is in April, a month when spring is usually barely noticeable in Iceland. Icelanders often joke that it always rains on the First Day of Summer, and they’re not wrong. 


See also: What to wear in Iceland in April


Not all is lost when the weather is terrible on the First Day of Summer. According to Icelandic folklore, summer and winter freezing together – meaning that temperatures drop below 0° the night before The First Day of Summer – signifies a warm summer.

The day has been a public holiday since the early seventies, but it’s been a staple in the lives of Icelanders much longer. The holiday originates from the old Icelandic calendar. It was the first day of the month ‘Harpa’ and always falls on a Thursday in the week of 19th-25th of April.

Parade

Scouts lead a parade in Reykjavík. Photo: Reykjavíkurborg Facebook.

Icelanders celebrate the day with parades led by a marching band and a flag-bearing honour-guard of scouts. Afterwards, there are outdoor events like concerts, bouncy castles and games for children.

Another curious tradition of the First Day of Summer is summer gifts, perhaps the oldest gift-giving tradition in Iceland. Read more about it in our article about summer gifts


Click the link to read What are Summer Gifts In Iceland