Sovereignty Day in Iceland

Observed annually in Iceland, Sovereignty Day is a holiday that falls on December 1st. Although June 17th is the day on which most Icelanders celebrate their country’s independence, this holiday is also one that’s also worth discussing.

Also known as Icelandic Sovereignty Day, this holiday celebrates the date in 1918 when Iceland went from being a colony to a fully sovereign state in a union with the Danish Crown. This is when the country changed its name to the Kingdom of Iceland. Of course, this was only the first step towards independence, and Iceland wouldn’t have full independence until June 17th, 1944.

The History Of Sovereignty Day In Iceland

Under the Danish-Iceland Act of Union established on December 1, 1918, Iceland went from being a colony of the Danish Crown to being a sovereign state. However, this agreement was only a temporary one and it would come up for review in 1940.

In April of 1940, the Nazis invaded Denmark, and ties between Denmark and Iceland were severed. Iceland would choose to remain neutral, but that would end abruptly when British forces occupied the country in May of that year. In December of 1943, the agreement between Denmark and Iceland would officially expire, and Iceland would move towards independence. On June 17th, 1944, Iceland would become an independent republic.

Interesting Facts About Iceland

Below are some cool facts about Iceland that people living outside of that country might not know about.

  • Approximately 60% of Iceland’s population lives in Reykjavik—the country’s capital city.
  • Iceland was the last place on Earth to be settled by humans.
  • Hot springs can be found all over Iceland—heated by volcanic activity.

Observing Sovereignty Day

Sovereignty Day doesn’t receive as much attention as Independence Day and isn’t an official holiday. While it does observe Iceland become a sovereign state of the Dutch Crown instead of a colony, it wouldn’t be until 1944 that true Icelandic independence would be obtained.

Where is it celebrated?
Iceland (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2023)
December 1 Friday
Next year (2024)
December 1 Sunday
Last year (2022)
December 1 Thursday