The Icelandic National Day is celebrated on 17th June every year. This day commemorates the formation of the Republic of Iceland in 1944. The date was selected as it is Jon Sigurosson's birthday. Sigurosson is a major figure of Iceland's culture and a prominent leader in the Icelandic Independence Movement of 19th century.
Iceland National Day Celebrations
The Icelanders celebrate the Icelandic National Day on a grand scale. Parades are held in urban areas and are headed by brass bands. The celebrations also feature flag bearers who are part of the Icelandic scout movement. The brass band is often preceded by riders on Icelandic horses.
Once the parades are over several speeches are given - one of these is delivered by Fjallkonan, or the woman of the mountain. The Fjallkonan wears a Skautbuningur, a national costume worn by Icelandic ladies and recites a poem.
She embodies the fierce aspects of the Iceland's nature and nation. This tradition is steeped in the romantic traditions of the period when the initial steps towards independence were taken.
Once the speeches and other formalities get over the informal celebrations start with musical performances that are meant to entertain the crowd. Children have a field day and get to eat as many candies as they can think of. Gas filled balloons are flown in the sky. Rain is expected on this day and more so in the Southwestern part of the country. Street theater and dancing shows are also held in the capital to mark the occasion.
Iceland National Day History
The basis of the Icelandic Republic was on a clause which was part of the Act of Union signed in 1819 with Denmark. This act was allowed to be revised in 1943. The results of the plebiscite held in 1944 also played a major role in this regard.
Once Germany occupied Denmark during the Second World War some politicians in Iceland demanded that they should not wait for the War to get over. The governments of USA and UK, which were occupying Iceland at that time, deferred the declaration asking the national parliament to wait till 1943 came to an end.
The then King Christian X was saddened after the results of the plebiscite but still sent a letter on June 17th 1944 to congratulate Icelanders on creating a Republic. However, the removal of monarchy did little to change the country's constitution and the term King was replaced by President.
The people of Iceland, however, were jubilant after the long battle for absolute independence concluded. They heaped praise on Jon Sigurosson for the role he played in the nationalist movement and Sveinn Bjornsson who was Iceland's first President.
Challenges facing Iceland
Iceland, along with Ireland and the United Kingdom, has disputed the claim of Denmark that the continental shelf of Faroe Islands goes beyond 200 nautical miles. In recent times Iceland has been affected badly by the recent global financial meltdown. Its banking system failed at that period and this led to serious economic issues. This crisis has caused the national government to collapse and many people have moved away to Norway.
||Iceland International Relations