Labour Day in Iceland

Labour Day in Iceland: A Celebration of Workers and Their Rights

Labour Day, known as "Verkalýðsdagurinn" in Icelandic, is a public holiday celebrated in Iceland to honour the contributions and achievements of workers. It is a day to promote and celebrate the rights of workers and the labour movement in the country.

In Iceland, Labour Day is celebrated on the first day of May each year, following the international tradition of May Day celebrations. This date does not change, and it is consistently observed on May 1st.


Labour Day has been celebrated in Iceland since the early 20th century. The first official celebration took place on May 1, 1923, when the Icelandic Federation of Labour (ASÍ) organized a parade and various events in Reykjavik. The tradition of celebrating Labour Day in Iceland was inspired by the international workers' movement and the fight for better working conditions, fair wages, and the eight-hour workday.


National customs for Labour Day in Iceland

On Labour Day in Iceland, various events and activities take place to mark the occasion. One of the most prominent customs is the Labour Day parade, which is organized by trade unions and labour organizations. The parade usually starts in downtown Reykjavik and ends at a park or an open space where speeches are held by union leaders and politicians, and live music performances take place.

Many people attend the parade, and it is common to see Icelandic flags and banners representing different labour unions and workers' rights organizations. In addition to the parade, various events may be organized, such as workshops, lectures, and exhibitions related to workers' rights, the labour movement, and social issues.

As Labour Day is a public holiday in Iceland, most businesses, schools, and offices are closed, giving workers the day off to rest and join the celebrations.

Local customs for Labour Day in Iceland

In smaller towns and rural areas of Iceland, local customs for Labour Day may vary. While some communities may not have a large parade like the one in Reykjavik, they may still organize events, gatherings, or family activities to mark the occasion. In some areas, people may also use the day to work on community projects or engage in volunteer work to support local causes.


Labour Day in Iceland, or Verkalýðsdagurinn, is a significant holiday that celebrates the achievements and rights of workers throughout the country. With a history rooted in the international workers' movement, Icelanders join together on May 1st each year to participate in parades, events, and activities that promote and honour the contributions of workers to Icelandic society.