With summer, comes joy, so they say. I guess that really depends on each individual but when it comes to Iceland, I think that statement is pretty much true. After those long, cold and dark winter days; the sun is here to stay. The nation now has an important reason to celebrate and rejoice! that is why we have many summer festivities in Iceland. Among them, Jónsmessa, a festivity directly linked to the midnight sun.
The midnight sun is a phenomenon that occurs during the summer time and it basically means that the sun does not set…at all. It does not matter if it is 23:00 or 3:00, the sun will still shine in the Icelandic sky. For many visitors, this is so weird and puzzling that even their sleep pattern can be heavily affected. The sunlight fools their body and that makes it harder to feel drowsy. We Icelanders are already used to it and we do know how to reduce the effect of it in our daily lives.
So instead of seeing these circumstances as a problem, we see it as a way to celebrate the long-awaited daylight hours. And that is when Jónsmessa kicks right in. It is part of the important summer festivities in Iceland group. Linked to both the sky, religion, and superstition. Jónsmessa literally means John Mass, referring to the birth of John the Baptist. I can say that fact is basically the only religious link we can find in Jónsmessa, as in practice, it is all about the midsummer and Icelandic superstition.
Jónmessa is the official day of the summer solstice and as in many countries, it is celebrated on June 24th. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and from now on, days become shorter. In astronomy, the real summer solstice takes place between the 20 and 23rth of June, but the tradition decided to celebrate these summer festivities in Iceland on the 24th of June.
Midsummer and Jónmessa have a strong mystical side to it. On this day, people are encouraged to roll on the dewy grass under the midnight sun, in your birthday suit. The connection with the spiritual world is wide open, so open that cows would then be able to speak. Maybe this is your one and only opportunity to have an Icelandic cow friend! But this is not the only magical surprise we got on this day. Tradition also stated that seals turn into humans and elves can approach you. So this can happen, you need to sit at a crossroad whose rods lead to a church, each one of them. Elves will then come by and will try to lure you with gifts.
These amazing otherworldly believes are mixed with the dim and mysterious twilight from the midnight sun. So if you are lucky enough to visit Iceland in June, do not miss the opportunity to enjoy such summer festivities in Iceland. There are also many music festivals around these dates! A complete package for your Icelandic vacation.
Summer Festivities in Iceland: Jónsmessa and Midnight Sun
If you love folklore and tradition, just join us in this enchanting, mystic day. You will deepen into the Icelandic culture and who knows, maybe you will be able to experience a supernatural phenomenon.