The first day of summer

Today is the first day of summer or Sumar-dagurinn-fyrsti (not as complicated as Eyja-fjalla-jökull :).  It is a traditional Icelandic holiday.  After a hard winter it was important to get a good summer.  People devised ways of predicting in the olden days and here the wisdom is:  If summer and winter freeze together, then summer will be good.  So children would put a plate with water outside the night before and check to see if the water was frozen the next morning.

Everyone would also get a present on that day and my father told me that Sumardagurinn fyrsti was a much more important holiday than Christmas or Easter.  On the farm where he lived as a boy they would celebrate with good food and gifts, the children would get clothing or toys.  Homemade of course since the farm was isolated and there wasn't a lot of money to go around.

When I was little there were parades with a band playing summer songs and we would sing along holding balloons and flags in our finest dresses.  This time of year in Iceland is hardly summer so we would generally be freezing cold so it was nice to go to my aunt Anna's for coffee and cakes where the relatives would always gather on this day.

For some reason this holiday doesn't have the same standing as it used to.  It is still a national holiday, so everyone gets the day off and the children still get gifts.  Nothing fancy: Balls, skipping rope, buckets and spades and maybe a bike if the old one is too little.  But people have stopped dressing up and there is less fuss made about this day than when I was younger.  That is a shame.  But I guess I am the only person in this country who still dresses up a bit to go to the movies! (I like to dress up, it's "playing dolls" for grown ups)
Last night we had a bit of frost so I'm confident that we will have a fantastic summer.  I have already sown the sweet peas, some lettuce and a few annuals and bought potatos for planting in the vegetable garden.  Now I need to prick out the small plants and sow some more seeds and today is perfect for that.  So the plan is to shower with my peppermint soap, dress in all white, bake a lovely cake and do some gardening.

Úpps, I just got "interupted" by my mother, bearing the gifts of an Anemone - "White splendour" and an old tool (I love old carpentry tools)...

... I gave her two soaps as a summer gift in return.  One of them is a gentle facial soap and the other is the salt soap that I made the other day, more about that experiment later.  We spent the day in the garden, sowing and prickling even if the temperature is only about 5C (50's F), but the sun kept us warm.  And, yes, I dressed in white!


The photos: The little green lamp was my fathers.  He used it on his tent trips to collect moss around the country. I love oil lamps and got the big Aladdin one for very little money. If the base glows in black light then it contains uranium and that dates it from 1938 to 1942.  If it doesn't glow then it is younger.  The other photo: My little seedlings anxiously waiting for weather that is warm enough for them to go outside a grow.

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