The many ways we celebrated across North America
Information compiled from Club newsletters and postings through the INL of NA email system.
Þjóðhátíðardagurinn, Icelandic National Day, is a holiday in Iceland, celebrated as the day that the Republic of Iceland was formed in 1944, becoming independent from the Danish monarchy.
June 17 was chosen because it is the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a major figure of Icelandic culture and the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement. Icelanders celebrate on a national scale, with parades including flag bearers, brass bands, and riders on Icelandic horses, followed by speeches.
And in North America? In any community where there is a sizable group of people of Icelandic heritage, in any community with an Icelandic club or association, there is a celebration. While the reason is the same across the continent, the form of celebration takes many forms. These are just some examples.
This year, celebrating in North America was complicated a little because June 17 is also Father’s Day. To celebrate on the day or to change the date? That was the question. The following bits of information are not intended as a complete list of activities across North America; they are to provide a sense of the variety of activities that can be inspired by groups of people who share a common ancestry and a need to celebrate. Some clubs, incidentally, had a door charge while others were free. Several had potlucks.
IAC – The Icelandic Association of Chicago – has something extra special to celebrate this June. The Chicago Tribune has done an article about the ICA and its members, a piece entitled “Tiny Icelandic Community Keeps Up Traditions”. The IAC June 17 traditions include Icelandic lamb hot dogs, pylsa, from Iceland, Icelandic style – eina með öllu – which includes dried fried onion and remoulade. They are also pre-cooked so will make it through Customs, unlike some of the Chicago Þorrablót food which was confiscated. IAC holds a picnic-style festival at a lake, with an alternative home location in case of rain. Participants bring their own gear – blankets, lawn chairs, sunscreen, umbrellas.
Icelandic Club of Greater Seattle – Given that the Independence Day celebrations at Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard fall on Father’s Day, the Seattle club is offering cold Dad’s Root Beer floats. There are talks from the Fjallkona and the Icelandic Princesses, a presentation of scholarship awards, an auction, and a sing-a-long. The celebration is advertised to members through the newsletter and via a mailout of postcards announcing the event.
Icelandic Association of Utah – This club’s annual event, held this year on June 22, 23 and 24, is Iceland Days, held in Spanish Fork, Utah, every June to celebrate the club’s Icelandic heritage. There is a solid lineup of events. Friday night features cultural workshops. Saturday is a Family Fair with Barnabær (Children’s Village), kids’ games, prizes, photo ops, piñata, Icelandic hot dogs and the Children’s choir. Sunday Night Fireside at the church in Spanish Fork features speakers.
The Jón Sigurdsson Chapter of the IODE and the Icelandic Canadian Club Frón Club of Winnipeg changed the timing of events because of Father’s Day. There is a wreath laying ceremony at the Jón Sigurdsson Statue in the Legislative Grounds, followed by the Jón Sigurdsson Day Gala Concert, which, in turn, will be followed by choral music by the Kvennakór Garðabæjar followed by the reknowned Icelandic jazz guitarist, Björn Thoroddsen, who is sponsored by the Icelandic Consulate of Manitoba.
The Minnesota Icelanders also team up for June 17. The June 17 Icelandic Independence Day celebrations at Bryant Lake Park are the result of combined efforts from the Icelandic Hekla Club and the Icelandic American Association of Minnesota.
Friends of Iceland, Ottawa, celebrate with a potluck at a member’s house.
In Washington, D.C., Ambassador Guðmundur Stefánsson and Mrs. Jóna Dóra Karlsdóttir, will host a reception at the Embassy.
In Alberta, all roads lead to Markerville.
The Icelandic Canadian Club of Edmonton and The Leif Eiriksson Icelandic Club of Calgary join Markerville Icelanders for an event that includes races, a program and a potluck dinner, culminating with the crowning of the new Fjallkona.
The Icelandic Canadian Club of BC celebrates inBurnaby, with, organizers pro-mised, something to eat. Lots of room for the kids to run around, free food, lots of people to talk to, they said. Bring amma and afi. Because Nansen Field was hosting a soccer tournament on Father’s Day weekend, the
Icelandic American Association of Southern California met a week early, on Saturday, June 9. They had promised singing, Icelandic national sports such as Reipitog, Pokahlaup, and Icelandic pylsa eating. There was going to be a community table with homemade goods.
The Icelandic Association of Northern California members gathered at Henry Ibsen Park in Woodside, a site that offered opportunities for barbequing or buying food. Since it’s Father’s Day, said the organizers, bring Dad and Grand dad and treat them to a family event. The park, owned by the Sons of Norway, offered a huge playground and lots of parking. Because east central
Saskatchewan has been blessed with an over-abundance of rain over the last two months, and because they had learned their lesson regarding staging anything on Father’s Day,
Vatnabyggð club members decided to find an alternative to the annual Picnic. The club has been looking for an appropriate time to show the documentary film, From Turf Cottage to the Cover of Time – and members have slated an afternoon showing on June 24, followed by lunch and visiting.
The L-H staff and readers look forward to photos and stories from all the clubs, to round out the 2012 Icelandic Independence Day experience