föstudagur, apríl 21, 2006

the first day of summer

Thursday was the first day of summer here in Iceland. This is an old holiday that goes back to Viking times, and was yet another day off nationwide, coming hot on the heels of the 5-day national Easter break. Sumardagurinn fyrsti is a low-key holiday, the first roll-out of the summer holiday package that encompasses Seaman's Day, the 17th of June (the Day of the Republic), the August bank holiday, and Gay Pride day. In Reykjavík, the main event at all of these holidays seems to be lazy strolling about downtown, soaking up the clear air and endless sunshine. There may be a parade, or rumors of a parade, but (with the exception of Gay Pride) a parade is something much more loosely defined here than it was in my American childhood. Maybe it's just a single marching band followed by a horde of kids, parents, strollers, and balloons.

The first day of summer was Iceland at its laid-back best. There was a dodge-ball game for kids with a lively announcer and surrounding crowd of ice-cream-eating onlookers. A handful of hardy souls were braving the slightly chill air outdoors at Thorvaldsen. Laugavegur's sidewalks were full of ambling pedestrians, and in between them a slow-moving crawl of cars was on the cruise. There were the Reykjavík stylemoms, decked out in amazing combinations of designer wear and large sunglasses, simultaneously pushing high-tech baby carriages. Most every shop was closed, but every eatery open, and the insides of cafes and restaurants were jammed with beer-sipping chatting parents and pink-cheeked Icelandic toddlers roaming free. The hanging-out continued well past 10 p.m. when it was finally getting dark. And all day long shopkeepers, waitresses, and friends meeting friends exchanged "Gleðilegt sumar!"*

*"Happy Summer!" This is often followed by "Takk fyrir veturinn.", "Thanks for the winter."


Blogger Sigvaldi said...

Gleðilegt sumar og takk fyrir veturinn!


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