December 1, 2022

Today, the 1st of December, is a day of great significance in Iceland history. It is Iceland’s Sovereignty Day, or fullveldisdagurinn.

Iceland was a part of the Kingdom of Denmark from 1814 to 1918. After gaining more and more control over its own affairs during the 19th century, on the 1st of December 1918 the country went from being a Danish colony to becoming a sovereign state, in union with the Danish crown.

Although not a public holiday, the 1st of December is still celebrated in various places and in various ways across the country. For further information, we’re happy to refer you to a short but thorough article from 2018 by the Reykjavík Grapevine in celebration of a 100 years of Icelandic sovereignty.

While in no way wanting to minimise the significance of this day, we want to mention one very important aspect and topic of conversation in Iceland: The weather.

The photo in this post was taken by one Magnús Ólafsson, and it has in many ways shaped people’s perception of the mood and weather of the day. Originally this photo was darker, which made the whole scene rather grim and gloomy. In actuality, the weather was excellent, better than anyone could have hoped for! In papers the following day, journalists' descriptions went something like this:

"Yesterday was the mildest day that has come for a long time, and providence did its part to ensure that this momentous moment could be as festive as possible.

The sky is cloudless, frost-free and still, so that it was evident from the smoke rising from the houses that a southerly breeze was in the air, and it pushed the fog, which lays calmly over the town, slowly north towards the bay. The countryside was empty and very dark to look at, but the highest mountains glowed red at sunrise.

Most people agree that it was a glorious day. The northern lights even showed themselves in the evening, the very heavens celebrated the sovereignty, but all we see is this grim picture."

As a quick aside, the day of Icelandic national celebration that people may be more aware of is the 17th of June, which is a celebration of Iceland declaring its independence from Denmark in 1944. Click here to read about Iceland's Independence Day.


The original of the above translation is from a special edition of Morgunblaðið in 2018, celebrating 100 years of sovereignty; pages 9 and 24.


Full = Full or complete

Veldi = Power orauthority

Dagur = Day

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