People usually don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in Iceland, which is an imported holiday, although its popularity is growing, especially among business owners who want to make money out of it. Valentine’s Day falls between two traditional Icelandic romantic days: January 21 was bóndadagur, or Husbands’ Day (bóndi also means “farmer”), and today it’s the women’s turn to be pampered on konudagur.
The Blue Lagoon is a popular destination on Women's Day. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
While bóndadagur marks the beginning of the old month of Thorri (and the Thorrablót mid-winter feasts with all sorts of strange treats) konudagur, Women’s Day or Wives' Day, marks the beginning of the month of Góa.
In Icelandic there’s a saying: ad threyja thorrann og góuna, which refers to these two months representing the harshest winter period and if people can just stick it out until the end of Góa they have survived winter and can start looking forward to spring.
But even in the harshest time of winter it’s nice to have a reason to celebrate. On konudagur men must remember to treat their partners to something nice; flowers and chocolates are always popular.
The sale of flowers doubles on konudagur. “Our feeling is that women buy flowers along with something else [on Husbands’ Day] whereas men make a special trip to the florist’s on Women’s Day and buy larger bouquets,” florist Sigurdur Moritzson at Graenn markadur commented to Morgunbladid.
The oldest sources of the first day of Góa being called konudagur date back to the mid-19th century, according to the University of Iceland Science Web.
It is assumed that the beginning of each month was celebrated in paganism and that the custom was preserved to some extent after Icelanders converted to Christianity in 1000 AD.
The first day of Thorri and Góa eventually evolved into bóndadagur and konudagur as we know the holidays today.
Although no particular dish is related to konudagur, as is the case with bóndadagur, it is traditionally celebrated with a rather fancy dinner as the day always falls upon a Sunday.
Boyfriends and husbands might also take a hint from bakers who in recent years have held a competition for the Cake of the Year; the winning entry goes on sale on konudagur.
Click here to read more about Husbands’ Day.