First Day of Summer in Iceland in 2020

First Day of Summer in Iceland in 2020
Kirkjufell 'Church Mountain', Iceland.
  How long until First Day of Summer?
This holiday next takes place in 281 days.
  Dates of First Day of Summer in Iceland
2021Iceland Thu, Apr 22National Holiday
2020Iceland Thu, Apr 23National Holiday
2019Iceland Thu, Apr 25National Holiday
2018Iceland Thu, Apr 19National Holiday
2017Iceland Thu, Apr 20National Holiday
  Summary
Known in Icelandic as 'Sumardagurinn fyrsti', this holiday is an Icelandic flag day and marks the arrival of the first day of summer
  Local name
Sumardagurinn fyrsti

When is the First Day of Summer in Iceland?

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

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

Traditions of the First Day of Summer in Iceland

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.

If it doesn't feel like summer in Iceland in mid-April, don't worry too much - a local tradition is that if the temperature on the night before the First Day of Summer falls below zero degrees centigrade, then it will be a long and warm summer.

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 April 14th 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 (April 11th).

Once a more important holiday than 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.

This day has been a national holiday in Iceland since 1971.

Celebrating the First Day of Summer

The video below is from Iceland Close-Up and shows the celebrations that take place to mark the first day of summer.


On Sumardagurinn Fyrsti, children in Iceland receive summer gifts ("sumargjafir.") A tradition of gift-giving to children on the first day of summer can be traced as far back as the 16th century, predating the similar Christmas practice by hundreds of years.

Traditionally children were given food as a gift. They might receive bread or other treats as the need to ration food over the winter was ending. The gift was seen as a way of rewarding the children for having had to endure the long winter.

Today, the summer gifts are normally new clothes, or something that can be played with outdoors, a welcome incentive to get out of the house after the harshness of winter.

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