Icelandic Republic Day is celebrated on June 17. It is an occasion marked by great joy and national pride. People paint the national flag on their faces and participate in the parade. Music has a great significance, and there are always musical shows on the day. Iceland was declared a republic in 1944. After breaking ties with Denmark, which had occupied it during WWII, Sveinn Björnsson was appointed the first president. The day was chosen as it is the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, who played a major role in Icelandic independence — his face graces the red 500 krona bill
History of Icelandic Republic Day
Iceland appears to have no prehistorical records. Two historical texts recall the country’s past. It is said to be discovered and settled by the Norse people in the Viking age. The “Book of the Icelanders” or “Íslendingabók” states that people settled in Iceland in about 870—930 A.D. A second source, “Landnámabók,” the “Book of Settlements,” dating from the 12th century, states that the first permanent settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, came from Norway in 874 A.D. He named the place where he settled Reykjavik. Most of the settlers came from Norway, but some hailed from other Nordic countries and the Norse Viking Age settlements in the British Isles.
In 1602, Denmark monopolized all foreign trade in Iceland.
The Danish crown continued to increase its hold on Iceland over the years, including on a constitutional level. In 1803, Iceland was allotted two seats at a new consultative assembly for the Danish Isles at Roskilde, Denmark. This kindled desire in Iceland for restoration of the Icelandic Althing assembly (the oldest legislature in the world).
In 1874, the King presented Iceland with a constitution whereby the Althing had the legislative power in internal affairs; however, the cabinet minister responsible for Iceland was the minister of justice in the Danish government. In 1918, Iceland became a separate state under the Danish crown, while only foreign affairs remained under Danish control. 1940, Germany occupied Denmark, and this union dissolved. In 1941, the United States took over the defense of Iceland, and the forces brought employment and prosperity to the country. Following this, Iceland and Denmark renegotiated their treaty, and Iceland became a Republic on June 17, 1944.
Icelandic Republic Day timeline
According to the “Book of the Icelanders” or "Íslendingabók" people settle in Iceland.
Iceland receives home rule for the first time from Denmark.
Iceland becomes a separate state under the Danish crown while only foreign affairs remains under Danish control.
Following WWI, Denmark and Iceland negotiate the treaty that proclaims Iceland a republic.
Icelandic Republic Day FAQs
How is Independence Day celebrated in Iceland?
Independence Day is celebrated by parades, music festivals, street theaters, and outdoor dancing.
What is the most popular holiday in Iceland?
Easter is greatly loved and celebrated in Iceland.
Why are there so few trees in Iceland?
When Vikings first settled in Iceland, they cut down about a quarter of the forest to settle in the country.
Icelandic Republic Day Activities
Dress up in the national costume
Dress up in the national costume. Get into the rhythm of the music and dance the day away.
Join the celebratory spirit
Join the parade and grab some candy and balloons. Enjoy the bands, the concerts, and the musical acts.
Paint your face
Paint the national flag on your face. Get together with friends, family, or other people and have fun on the day.
5 Interesting Facts About Iceland
Most of the population lives in Reykjavik
More than 60% of the population of Iceland lives in the capital, Reykjavik.
It’s an eco-friendly country
One of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, the majority of electricity is powered by solar power.
Last place to be settled by people
Iceland is the last country where humans settled.
It has many glaciers
About 11% of the country is covered by glaciers, mainly in the central and southern areas.
Many inhabitants believe in elves and trolls
Many Icelanders believe in the existence of elves and trolls, which dates back to the Viking age.
Why We Love Icelandic Republic Day
It is a day for national unity
Iceland Republic Day is dedicated to the country and brings people together. It makes us appreciate its unique culture.
It has a long history of struggle
It took from 1918 to 1944 for Iceland to gain its independence from Denmark. If you’re looking for an informative way to pass an afternoon, do a bit of research into the history.
It’s a day to have fun
Icelanders take to the streets and watch colorful ceremonies, parades, street theater, sideshows, and outdoor concerts, dancing in the midnight sun. What better way than to celebrate in this manner?
Icelandic Republic Day dates