Summer solstice – the longest day of the year.
Summer solstice in Iceland will be 09:13 on Tuesday, June 21. That day, the sun will rise at 02:54 in the morning and won‘t set until just past midnight, or at 24:05. So there will be light all day and night, for better or for worse.
Life in summer definitely has a distinct feel about it. Everyone tries do make the most of the longer hours. Children play outside long after “normal“ hours and winter pastime activities fade away. Bookmarks stay put on page 32, needles and yarn are left to moths while camping gear, trampolines, bikes and swimming gear are up, repaired, oiled and polished.
In the early years of tourism in Iceland, and long into the nineties, the only tourist accommodation outside of Reykjavík was in school buildings, in relatively small student rooms, with two beds, two small desks and a wash basin. Curtains where thin. No need to spend a fortune on that, with complete darkness well before bedtime during the school year.
There was obviously a serious lack of infrastructure during this time. But luckily the school year was shorter back in the day, so dorms all over Iceland were evacuated of kids in April and then immediately filled with eager tourists.
The links with farming were stronger those decades ago. Everyone had relatives out in the country side and kids had to help during lambing in the spring, and then the hay harvesting and meat processing season in the fall. Hence, school didn‘t start until October and only lasted til the end of April, for summers to be spent at home in the valley. City children also got a taste of life in the country, as they were sent in masses to work on farms. Either with relatives – or not. They had to be occupied while parents worked in Reykjavík. This way Icelandic youth got in touch with reality very early on. They still have a reputation for having extensive work experience by the time they graduate from University, working every summer and during winter while studying, but that's a different story. With both parents and children being so busy at work during the summer, not all families got the chance to travel much. If they did get to travel at all, the Icelandic countryside was always somewhat obscured by road dust in the back of a Volkswagen (as well as cigarette smoke...) because of infrastructure like paved roads still making their way around the island, so to speak,
This primitive accommodation in secondary schools around the country meant that exhausted tourists, after bouncing and bobbling on gravel roads all day, didn't get a wink of sleep. They could just as well not draw the curtains and stay up to enjoy the views instead, till the alarm sounded. On the bright side, literally, it may have compensated for dusty bus windows on dry days.
So now is the time to charge your batteries. Because after summer solstice, as we all know, winter is coming...
Sumar = summer
Sól = sun
Stöður = positions
Sumarsólstöður (sum-are-soul-stu(d)th-err) = summer solstice (summer sun positions)