April in Iceland
Did I read that right? April 19, 2018 is the first day of summer in chilly Iceland? That’s correct; facts like this that makes Iceland a fascinating country to read about and visit. So much so that in grammar school, my fourth grade geography project was a clay model of the island featuring its most active volcanoes. I read books about Iceland dreaming to visit it one day. In 2011, my dream to visit this pristine Island nation came true and I loved every minute of it.
|Beautiful Iceland in August!|
To us, April signals the beginning of Spring, but this time of year, Icelanders celebrate summer since April begins the end of the long dark winter days as the days get longer with more sunlight. Sumardagurinn Fyrsti or The First Day of Summer happens on the second Thursday after April first each year. This date also marks the first day of the month Harpa. Harpa is believed to be the name of a young maiden so the day also celebrates Maidens’ Day when young men have to be attentive and courteous to all the young women they meet.
The formula for finding the date of this holiday goes back to the Icelandic calendar and the ninth century when it was believed that Iceland had only two seasons: summer and winter. This calendar was continued through the 19th century when they switched to the Gregorian calendar. It is no longer a religious holiday but a national flag day.
Even though the temperature is only 0 to 10 degrees Celsius on that day, it doesn’t stop all the outdoor events such as games, parades, and picnics. Children are excited because parents traditionally give them small gifts known as summer gifts. The traditional food is Icelandic pancakes which are crepe-like flat pancakes. They are rolled with sugar or are filled with whipped cream and jam. Sounds great to me!
There are superstitions around this happy day. Many fill a dish with water and leave it outside in a sheltered place the night before the holiday. If the temperature dips below freezing, and the water freezes, it’s considered good luck for a good summer with bountiful crops for the farmers because summer and winter meld together on Sumardagurinn Fyrsti.
|Blue Lagoon Swimmers in August Evening|
Lucky for me, we went in August when the temperatures were milder but not hot! We visited Reykjavik, took a dip in the warm Blue Lagoon even though the outside temperature was only fifty degrees and covered our faces in Silica mud. The warm volcanic waters and the steam rising from them made our experience surreal. We toured the island visiting amazing waterfalls such as Gullfoss, whose waters fall from many sides of a mountain, to adorable Icelandic ponies, to the Golden Circle with its shooting geysers and volcanoes. The color of the land scape changed from green pastures to black volcanic rocks. In Thingvellir National Park we saw above ground the boundary between the North Atlantic tectonic plate and the Eurasian Plate. We were amazed to see the bright green streaks of the Northern Lights peak from behind the clouds one night. Iceland is a magical and beautiful country and I am lucky to have visited there.
There has been no royalty since 1944 when a monarch ruled the country from 1918-1944;
But royalty takes center stage in THE DUCHESS’NECKLACE, available in print and e-book. My fictional duchess, Amelia Augusta Ethrington, Her Grace the Duchess of Abbington, is fourth in line for the British throne. 18th century royal marriages were less about love and more about standing and property. Amelia refuses to marry not wanting to relinquish a smidgeon of power to a husband. Because of this, she has to quench her desires in one night stands with traveling nights and younger men seeking favor. She’s too modern a woman for 18th century rules and needs a modern man who will accept her for her intelligence, independence and feistiness. She needs a man from the present. When circumstances in her life go awry, she finds one by chance through Time Travel.
A deceptive Traveler from the present romances her only to steal her necklace, her sole claim to royal title and standing, before returning to the present. She Travels to get her necklace back: finding the love of her life was a side benefit but with that benefit came the most difficult choice of her life. Love in the present or wealth and privilege in the past as a duchess?
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