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Public Holidays in Iceland: Everything You Need to Know

Public Holidays in Iceland: Everything You Need to Know

Subject: Iceland public holidays throughout the year from January to December.

Every country has its selection of public holidays and special occasions when people unite in a jubilant celebration. Iceland is no exception, as its residents are quite diligent about observing important holidays and religious dates. Visiting Iceland during the public holiday is one of the best ways of observing its residents getting together for common causes. Even if some of the holidays celebrated are common with those of other countries, Iceland has a distinctive spirit that just shines through.

The List of Public Holidays in Iceland

  • New Year's Day - New Year’s Day on the 1st of January is celebrated by most nations following the Gregorian calendar, including Iceland. Like people across most of Northern Europe, Icelanders love to welcome the New Year’s arrival with a grand celebration. People in cities like Reykjavik unite in public places to watch the marvelous display of fireworks lighting up the sky as the clock strikes midnight.

  • Maundy Thursday - Maundy Thursday or Skírdagur is a public holiday that marks the beginning of Easter celebrations. Schools, colleges and businesses are closed across Iceland on this day. Icelanders like to spend time with their family members, relatives, and friends during this holiday.

  • Good Friday - Good Friday is a Christian holiday for the remembrance of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death. It falls on the day after Maundy Thursday and is observed by most Icelanders as a holy occasion. Do not expect to see any celebrations on this day of reverence.

  • Easter Day - Easter Day is one of the most important public holidays in Iceland as a major part of the country’s population is Lutheran Christian. Most business places and institutions remain closed during this day. Children love going on Easter Egg hunts while adults enjoy skiing across the country’s mountain slopes.  

  • Easter Monday - Easter Monday is a holiday that follows Easter Day in Iceland and is yet another day of religious observance. Schools, businesses and most institutions are closed during this day. Most tour agencies, however, will keep services open for the convenience of tourists.

  • Sumardagurinn fyrsti - Sumardagurinn fyrsti or the first day of summer is a public holiday celebrated every year in Iceland. It usually falls during the latter half of April and marks the start of the Icelandic calendar’s Harpa month. The holiday is a celebration of the lengthening of daytime durations across the country. Many parades and events are held on this day.

  • May Day - May Day is one of the 11 Icelandic flag days and has been a public holiday since the year 1966. The day was observed for the first time in 1923 by Icelandic workers demanding better terms and wages.

  • Ascension - Ascension Day falls on the 40th day of Easter, and a Christian holiday marking Jesus Christ’s ascent to Heaven. It is celebrated as a public holiday in Iceland when most schools, universities and business places are closed. On this day the Easter Candle is extinguished and many Icelanders attend mass.

  • Whit Sunday - Whit Sunday or hvítasunna is an important public holiday in Iceland, and falls during the seventh Sunday following Easter. Icelanders consider this day as a day of confirmation for children. Most businesses and institutions remain closed on this day.

  • Whit Monday - Whit Monday, the day after Whit Sunday, is also a public holiday in Iceland. It is also referred to as Second of Whitsun in Iceland, and a day of great religious significance. Whit Monday marks the Holy Ghost’s descent onto the followers of Jesus Christ. Schools and businesses are closed but tourists should have no problem finding amenities.

  • Icelandic National Day - 17th June of every year is celebrated as the Icelandic National Day. It is one of the most important public holidays and a day when the Republic of Iceland was found. Icelandic residents celebrate in public and many parades are held across Iceland’s urban centers. This specific day was chosen as National Day to match with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a key figure in Iceland’s struggle for independence. On this day, Iceland achieved full independence from its ruler Denmark.

  • Commerce Day - Commerce Day is a special public holiday when the country’s population acknowledges the role of commerce in the development of modern Iceland. On this day, the Iceland Stock Exchange remains closed and businesspersons show off their wares. This public holiday is being celebrated at the start of August since the year 1931. Commerce Day is also celebrated in remembrance of oppressed tradesmen who rose to end the dominance of their richer counterparts.

  • Christmas Eve - Christmas Eve is one of the most important public holidays in Iceland and also a great time for tourists to visit. Every corner of the country is lit up with bright Christmas lights and the streets are filled with people celebrating with their loved ones. But there is an interesting and unique tradition called Jolabokaflod during Christmas Eve in Iceland. People like to gift books to family and friends on this day every year. Christmas Eve is a time of gratitude, unity, and happiness in Iceland.

  • Christmas Day - Christmas Day is celebrated with a great number of festive events, public gatherings, and special celebrations. The capital Reykjavik is the best place to be during this holy day, as you can find the best options for shopping, dining, and cultural exploration. Planning your trip around Christmas is a great idea if you want the best of festive celebrations and sightseeing.

  • Boxing Day - Christmas celebrations continue on Boxing Day in Iceland and the country’s residents continue their celebrations. Many Icelanders also like to celebrate the day indoors as they relish family dinners, meet up with relatives and entertain themselves. Another important tradition during this day is visiting cemeteries to pay respects to deceased loved ones.

  • New Year's Eve - New Year’s Eve is yet another major public holiday in Iceland and one that unites the entire country in celebration. As the evening rolls on, people start celebrating on the streets and bars of the nation. Many bonfires are lit across Reykjavik and amazing displays of fireworks light up the night sky. People celebrate this holiday till midnight and beyond as they bring in the New Year.

Are you looking forward to visiting Iceland during one of its many public holidays? Do you want to witness how the locals celebrate? Book a trip to the country to gather unforgettable experiences.

Author: (Abhi Chauhan)
Date: 02/12/2019


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