It’s not customary to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Iceland, although its popularity has been growing, especially among young people, in recent years. It falls between two other romantic days: January 22 was bóndadagur (‘Husband’s Day’), and today it’s the women’s turn to be pampered on konudagur (Woman’s or Wife’s Day).
While bóndadagur marks the beginning of the old month of þorri (and the þorrablót celebration, featuring traditional Icelandic food), konudagur marks the beginning of the month of góa.
In Icelandic there’s a saying: að þreyja þorrann og góuna, meaning ‘to survive þorri and góa,’ the harshest winter months. 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 darkest hours of winter it’s nice to have a reason to celebrate. On konudagur, men treat their partners to something special; flowers and chocolates are always popular.
In fact, konudagur is by far the busiest day for flower growers and florists in Iceland.
Some may even give their wife a spa treatment, get tickets for the theater, cook her a fancy dinner, or take her to a restaurant.
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 þorri and góa eventually evolved into bóndadagur and konudagur, as we know the holidays today.