Friday, April 20, 2012

Iceland’s First Day of Summer at Asbru’s Open Days (Opinn dagur á Ásbrú)

Iceland takes the summer very seriously and celebrates its arrival with many celebrations all over the country on the third Thursday of April. Non-Icelandic readers may find the date a bit premature but I can assure them that it makes perfect sense to do it this early (the sun rose at 5:36 am and set at 9:17 pm). I had the pleasure of spending a few hours at Asbru (the old U.S. military base) near Keflavik where it has become a tradition to invite everyone to visit the area and to take part in games, shows, performances, and other fun events. This year, the organizers honored the United States by calling the event “America Day”. We were very pleased that several of the NASA scientists conducting global warming research from Iceland could spend a few hours explaining the research they are doing and showing some of the equipment used by its pilots. As my wife and I visited and enjoyed the booths, games, shows, exhibits, and other fun events and saw hundreds of families with their children, I could not help reflect on the deep bonds between Americans and Icelanders. The event itself is a shared tradition that was born out of Iceland’s celebration of the first day of summer and the American tradition at the base to celebrate Carnival with an open house. It was a fun day and a reminder of the ties that bind us.