Icelandic Roots at the Heritage Celebrations

Icelandic Roots genealogists will be LIVE for the important Icelandic Heritage Celebrations in North Dakota and Manitoba at the end of the month. To learn WHY we celebrate, continue reading under the list of our events. I hope you can come to visit us.


Special Public Events for The Deuce and Íslendingadagurinn


July 29 - GARDAR! Live Genealogy Center at the Gardar Hall. 1-2 pm and 3-4:30 pm. A Gardar, North Dakota community celebration will be held from 2-3 pm.


July 30 - MOUNTAIN! Live Genealogy Center at the Mountain Community Center. 11-2. The Heritage Program is from 2-3 pm and our genealogists will be available for questions after the program.


July 30 - Mountain - Hjördís Hilmarsdóttir presents the 'Our East Iceland Roots' documentary and presentation about the east Iceland Highland Farms in the Mountain Community Center, North Dakota.


July 31 - Gimli - Hjördís Hilmarsdóttir presents 'Our East Iceland Roots' documentary and presentation about the east Iceland Highland Farms in the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, Manitoba.


July 31 - GIMLI! Live Genealogy Center at the New Iceland Heritage Museum following the Highland Farms presentation. We will be there from 2:30-4:30 pm to assist with genealogy and everyone who attends will receive FREE access to the IR Database.


Why Do We Celebrate the 2nd of August date?

The Icelandic celebrations in North Dakota and Manitoba coincide with the August long weekend in Canada. This is a public civic holiday celebrated on the first Monday in August. On that first Monday in August, the Íslendingadagurin parade and heritage program are held in Gimli. The Deuce of August celebration in North Dakota is held on the weekend before this Manitoba Civic Holiday Monday with the parade and heritage program held on Saturday.


By 1874, Iceland had been under harsh Danish rule for hundreds of years and the people wanted their freedom. Jón Sigurðsson was determined to to fight for this cause. The following has been excerpted from an article by Oscar G. Johnson out of the work “Reflections by the Quill” by Quill Historical Society of Wynyard, Saskatchewan. Additional information has been added by the IR genealogy and writing teams.


Jón Sigurðsson wanted freedom for Iceland from Denmark. He wanted schools in Iceland-a medical college, an agricultural college, and other schools. Up to this time, little consideration had been given to the people of Iceland by the Danish government. Jón Sigurðsson moved to Denmark around the year 1830 where he was educated and became a librarian at the King’s Library. He became a member of the Parliament in Iceland. There he became President of the assembly.

Jón Sigurðsson is IR# I174907. His farm where he was born had a memorial installed in 1911 and a museum opened there in 1980.


He hammered away at the Danish government until finally, in January 1874, King Kristjan the Ninth made the announcement that he would visit Iceland during the summer of 1874 and that he would bring a new constitution for Iceland. For that purpose, King Kristjan the Ninth decreed that the Icelandic Parliament should be called into session from August the first to the seventh.
On August the Second, he asked the Icelandic clergy to have services in every church in the land. On that day, he would hand over the New Constitution to Parliament.

King Christian IX (08 Apr 1818 - 29 Jan 1906) was the King of Denmark from 1863-1906. This statue is in front of the Prime Minister´s Office in Reykjavík (Stjórnarráðshúsið). The building was built as a penitentiary. Construction began in 1761 and finished by 1881. The office of the President was in this government house from 1973-1996. Initially, King Christian was very unpopular but because of the length of his reign and his personal choices in life, he became a more popular leader. He is known as the father-in-law of Europe as his six children married into other royal families all across Europe.

Jón Sigurðsson did not attend that session of Parliament but he advised the leaders to accept the constitution, even though it was inadequate because it was a step in the right direction. But he cautioned the people never to down their desire for independence. His by-word was “Aldrei ad vikja” (Never let down).
It is known that a small group of Icelandic people who immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the USA in the early 1870s held a celebration on August 2, 1874, to celebrate this event. It is also known that the Icelandic community of Winnipeg held the first celebration on the second of August in the year 1890 and called it, “The Day of the Icelanders.” While August the second was never declared a legal national holiday in Iceland, this day was celebrated whenever and however small the settlement was, whether in Canada or the United States by the Icelandic settlers who called the second of August, “The Day of the Icelanders.”
Iceland officially declared its independence from Denmark on June 17, 1944, and became a republic.

To read more about the Icelandic Immigrants to Washington Island, Wisconsin in 1870, by Wisconsin Genealogy Specialist, Willie Engelson, see the article at this LINK.


For more Icelandic Roots Events, see our Event Calendar.