Happy summer from us at Iceland Outfitters !
Yes it’s official, summer has arrived in Iceland. Thursday April 23rd marks the first day of summer here and is a public holiday. So lots to celebrate, at last winter is over and we can look forward to the summer.
This day always falls on the first Thursday after April 18th and dates back to when the Icelanders used the Old Norse calendar which consisted of just two seasons, winter and summer and the first month of summer is called Harpa. There were 12 months in the year with each month containing 30 days and the months always started on the same day and Harpa always began on a Thursday. Every few years the extra days missed would be added to the year in one go, unlike the leap years that we have now. There were six winter months and six summer months
Harpa is a female name and you may have noticed that here at Iceland Outfitters we have our very own Harpa, unfortunately there are no months called Stefán ;) Anyway back to our first day of summer, it is one of the oldest festivities here and gifts have been given on this day for many, many years, for example in the 19th century it was more common to receive gifts on this day than at Christmas and even today you will see the shops full of summer toys for the children, bubbles, balls, skipping ropes etc.
Of course it wouldn’t be Iceland if there weren't any folktales connected to this special day. It is said that it is a good omen if summer and winter freeze together and to be honest although it is the first day of summer it is often quite chilly, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the temperatures dropped to freezing, but we console ourselves with the thought of those sunny warm days being just around the corner as even now the days are getting very long. The sun now sets at about 21:20 and rises at around 5:50.
As the first day of summer is a public holiday some go to summer houses, go fishing, go downtown to take part in parades or just enjoy whatever the weather brings.
Its worth mentioning that down near the harbour in the heart of Reykjavík you will find another Harpa, our stunning concert hall and conference centre, an amazing piece of architecture which is a delight to the eye. In the summer the sun’s rays reflect on the many windows like crystal and in the winter the windows are lit up in many colours. An amazing piece of design. Finally, Harpa is the Icelandic word for harp the instrument.
Well here’s wishing you all a great summer and as they say here “thanks for the winter” from all of us at Iceland Outfitters.