First Day of Summer

Public and national holidays in Iceland National Holiday in Iceland


When is First Day of Summer?

Year Day Date
2017 Thursday April 20th
2016 Thursday April 21st
2015 Thursday April 23rd
2014 Thursday April 24th
2013 Thursday April 25th

This holiday is celebrated on first Thursday after 18 April. This means it always falls between 19 April and 25 April.

Known in Icelandic as 'Sumardagurinn fyrsti', this holiday is an Icelandic flag day and marks the arrival of the first day of summer.

Given the climate in Iceland, it might seem strange that summer comes so early to Iceland. However in Iceland the old Norse calendar was in use by the first settlers to Iceland in the 9th century and it divided the year into only two seasons, vetur (winter) and (sumar) summer.

The first day of summer was traditionally celebrated on the first day of Harpa, the first of the six summer months. It may also be called 'Girl Day' or 'Maiden Day' as the month of Harpa was associated with Girls.

While it is unclear whether the Norse considered the first day of Summer or the first day of Winter to be the start of the year, it is likely that the date in April was the start of the year. This would link with similar traditions of April being the start of the year in other parts of Europe.

The first day of Harpa corresponded to 14 April in the modern calendar. The current date for the First Day of Summer was determined by the church as it is technically deemed to be the second Thursday after the Saint’s day of Pope Leo I (11 April).

Once a more important holiday then Christmas, this holiday has faded in terms of significance with the adoption of the major Christian festivals. Despite its lower status Icelanders will mark the day as heralding a welcome change in the weather with parades, sporting events and entertainment across the island.

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