Commerce Day is a public holiday in Iceland and is observed annually on the first Monday in August. This holiday is also sometimes known as Holiday of the Merchants Day or Tradesmen’s Day. It’s also known as Frídagur Verslunarmanna in Icelandic. The original purpose of this holiday at the end of the 19th century was to provide an agreed-upon day off for the managers and unions of the shopping district in Reykjavik.
It allowed both industrial workers and shop workers, as well as tradesmen, to all have the same days off during the year. Nowadays, it’s known as a merchant’s weekend and is accompanied by celebrations all across Iceland.
The History of Commerce Day
Commerce Day was observed for the first time on September 13, 1894, which was a Thursday. It was designed to give commercial workers a day off. Industrial workers and manufacturers each had the day off, which made sense since those two trades depended on each other to operate, so it only made sense for them both to have the day off at the same time.
However, this left out commercial workers such as shop owners because they weren’t as reliant on those other two industries. By giving them a day off as well, everyone could enjoy the same holiday. It’s a way to give a 3-day weekend to those commercial workers who work so hard every day of the year.
Observing Commerce Day
Commerce Day is usually observed with a large outdoor festival that’s held on the Westman Islands, although there are smaller festivals, concerts, and celebrations held all over Iceland.
Most shops and storefronts are closed on this day, but for businesses that remain in operation, they’re required to give their employees holiday pay. All across Iceland, it has become a popular summer holiday because it gives everyone a 3-day weekend.