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Jun 17 2021

Iceland's National Day

The National Day (Þjóðhátíðardagur) of Iceland is to commemorate the foundation of the Republic of Iceland 17 June 1944. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, leader of the 19th century Icelandic Independence movement.

Meet Mr Bjarni VESTMANN who is the Minister-Counsellor, Iceland's Representative to SHAPE in Belgium, JFCBS in The Netherlands and USEUCOM in Germany. We asked him a few questions about his country and about the Icelandic National day.

Read his answers below:

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Iceland

Mr Bjarni Vestmann

Minister-Counsellor, Iceland's Representative to SHAPE in Belgium, JFCBS in The Netherlands and USEUCOM in Germany

1. What do you miss most about home?

Family and friends, outdoor swimming pools and nature.

2. What have you found rewarding about working in such a multinational environment as SHAPE?
This work environment has taught me to use my skills in an entirely new way that I never thought possible. It's refreshing to have colleagues from all over the alliance and get new perspectives on life. I'm very grateful for the chance, and I hope to be able to stay here for a lot more years.

3. What is something unique about Iceland that others might not know?

Most people may know about volcanos and glaciers, but it may come as a surprise to people to learn that the largest desert in Europe is in Iceland, black sand. Icelanders are descendants settlers from Norway. Later DNA research has revealed that ¼ of Icelandic men's genes are Celtic, and even a larger proportion of the women's genes.

4. During normal non COVID times how would you usually celebrate this national day?

The National Day (Þjóðhátíðardagur) is to commemorate the foundation of the Republic of Iceland 17 June 1944. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, leader of the 19th century Icelandic Independence movement. Today, Icelanders celebrate this holiday with parades led by a brass band through each city, town or village. Flag-bearing troop of the Icelandic scout movement traditionally follow the band. After each parade are speeches from Fjallkonan (Woman of the Mountain) – presenting the fierce spirit of the Icelandic nation and nature. This is under the spirit of the romantic era in the 19th century. Thereafter, all kinds of stands are in squares selling street food and candy. In the evening there are pop concerts that last into the night.

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