Anyone visiting Iceland at this time of year might be surprised to hear about festivities in town, celebrating the first day of summer, April 25th.
Wait, what? What‘s with the snow today? And what happened to spring? At best, this seems to imply a lot of wishful thinking.
Indeed, weather in Iceland in April seems like it‘s trying to make its mind up whether to stay in winter mode or turn to spring mode. The darling buds of April are appearing and sometimes the weather is warm and cosy, while at others cold and windy, adding the occasional rain, snow and frost. Then again, that‘s typical Icelandic weather for you. If there‘s one thing you can rely on with Icelandic weather, it‘s that it‘s unreliable. So if you're travelling in Iceland around this time a year, I'd suggest dressing warmly and being prepared for any sudden change in weather, even several during a single day.
The actual reason for April 25th is celebrated as the first day of summer dates back to the old Norse calendar, when there‘d really be only winter and summer, with six summer months and six winter months. Folk belief also held that if summer and winter freeze together, i.e. if the heat on the night before the first summer day went below 0°C, then this would bode a good summer.
Winter and summer did indeed freeze together this year, and being an optimistic guy, I am expecting that summer will indeed be nice and warm. Otherwise, the weather station will certainly get a stern letter, hrmpf.
One of my favourite songs by Icelandic troubadour Valgeir Guðjónsson, to a poem by one of my favourite poets, Jóhannes úr Kötlum, has the beautiful line ‚Vorið kemur, heimur hlýnar, hjartað mitt‘, translating to ‚Spring will arrive, the world will grow warmer, my heart‘. It certainly seems fitting.