Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Happy Uppstigningardagur (Ascension Day)!
Uppstigningardagur means 'Climbing Up Day.' Many people in Iceland will have the following days off of work : Ascension Day, Whit Sunday (Hvítasunna), and Whit Monday (Annar i hvítasunnu). These days are celebrated as national holidays. Ascension Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States or in Canada.
Have you read some of the old laws of Iceland? I find excerpts from an old Icelandic law book very interesting with the laws of our ancestors during this time of year.
Laws of Early Iceland: Gragas I
From the first day of Easter, there are to be five weeks to the Sunday introducing Rogation week. We are to keep the Monday of Rogation week and Tuesday and Wednesday like Saturdays and the people on the list who should fast are to eat only one meal each day. It is lawful to eat foods made from milk at night if desired. If the Monday or Tuesday of Rogation week coincides with the feast of Phillip and James on the invention of the Cross, or a dedication day, it is awful to eat two meals but not meat. But if the Wednesday in Rogation week coincides with one of these feast days, people are to continue to fast as before. The Thursday in Rogation week is Ascension day and we are to keep it like Easter Day. From Easter day there are to be seven weeks to WhitSunday. There is a whole week between Rogation week and Whitsun. On the Saturday before Whitsun, people are too fast the whole day. Whitsunday is to be kept like Easter day and we are to keep the Monday and Tuesday like Sundays. On Wednesday, men are allowed to travel with packhorses if they are moving house and to ferry cargoes and trade foods with a ship, to drive cattle to a communal pasture, and to shear sheep. People must not join in marriage on the night before and established Holy day or an established holy fast. Before Easter, a wedding is not supposed to be celebrated later than the end of the Saturday Before the Rogation days and right on until the Rogation week is over. A wedding must be over on the Saturday preceding the Christmas fast and it is not to be held sooner than when a week has passed from the 13th day. Lesser outlawry is the penalty for anyone who celebrates a wedding at the times now excluded.
Well --- I guess I am at outlaw! My husband and I were married on the 3rd of January. But at the young age of 20 in North Dakota, in 1981, this law did not really apply. :) With lesser outlawry (fjörbaugsgarður), the outlaws were only banished for three years. Their property was not confiscated and after the three years, they could go back to living their life - as long as they followed the laws. Uppstigningardagur or Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, forty days after Easter. It commemorates Christ's ascension to heaven. Iceland has some amazing and beautiful churches.
Some are ultra-modern but there are a few turf churches left standing after all these years. Learn more about them HERE.
Have a wonderful day everyone and if you get a long weekend, have a great one!