Independence Day or National Day as it is known in Iceland is celebrated each year on 17 June, which just happens to be my birthday! The festivities take place in Reykjavik, the country’s capital and include parades, street theatre, sideshows, competitions and dancing.
“In 1944, the Scandinavian country of Iceland declared full independence from the Danish crown. Icelanders selected June 17 to be the official holiday because it was the birthday of Jon Sigurdsson who is regarded as Iceland’s champion to the nationalist cause”(http://goscandinavia.about.com/od/annualeventstraditions/f/independdayice.htm).
“The celebration traditionally takes the form of a parade through each urban area with a brass band at the fore. Riders on Icelandic horses often precede the brass band and flag bearers from the Icelandic scout movement traditionally follow the brass band. After the parade several speeches are held out in the open, including one from Fjallkonan (the woman of the mountain). She represents the fierce spirit of the Icelandic nation and of Icelandic nature; this is in many ways an inheritance from the period of romanticism that reigned when the first steps toward independence were taken after this celebration takes place with musicians entertaining the crowd, candy being given to the children in huge quantities, and gas-filled balloons escaping their owners and flying to the sky”( http://www.t2iceland.com/festivals.aspx).
Check out this vid to see the Icelanders in action. One thing to notice about the video is that everyone is dressed up in their winter warmest while its supposed to be the middle of summer. I guess it is Iceland so the name says it all.
If I was planning a trip to Iceland, June would be a good time to go as a number of other festivals happen around then such as Seamans’s Day (June 3), the Reykjavik Arts Festival (May 20 – June 5), Festival of the Sea (June 4-5) , Viking Festival (June 16–19) , Summer Solstice (June 21) and Landsmot National Horse Show of Iceland (Summer every two years). (see separate posts for each of these).
All that’s left to do is dye your hair blonde (or black if you want to stick out), don a Viking hat and prepare for some chillier summer fun.