Women’s Day in Iceland Date in the current year: February 20, 2022

Women’s Day in Iceland In many countries there are matching “male” and “female” holidays, for example, Valentine’s Day (when men are traditionally given chocolate) and White Day in some Asian countries, Defender of the Fatherland Day and International Women’s Day in some former Soviet republics, and Men’s Day and Women’s Day in Iceland.

The fist mentions of Women’s Day (Konudagur) in Iceland date back to the mid-19th century, when members of the romantic nationalist movement decided to revive Old Norse festivals such as the Þorrablót, a midwinter feast dedicated to Þorri, who was a personification of winter in Norse mythology.

The Þorrablót, reinvented as Men’s Day (or Farmer’s Day) is celebrated on the first day of the old Icelandic month of Þorri, and Women’s Day is observed a month later, on the first day of the month of Góa. Góa always starts on a Sunday between February 7 and 14 of the Julian calendar, or between February 20 or 27 of the Gregorian calendar, although the first day of the month may fall on February 19 of the Gregorian calendar on leap years in the Icelandic calendar.

In the old Icelandic calendar, Góa was the penultimate month of winter, when the days finally started to get longer. The namesake of the month, Góa or Gói, was a personification of winter just like Þorri, who was her husband, brother or father, depending on the version of the legend. The master of the house was supposed to welcome the month of Þorri, whereas his wife was responsible for welcoming the month of Góa (although some sources claim that it was actually vice versa, women welcomed Þorri and men welcomed Góa).

These welcoming rituals became the foundation of Men’s Day and Women’s Day in Iceland, although hardly anyone actually performs them these days. Over time, Men’s Day and Women’s Day in Iceland have transformed into local equivalents of Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. In January, women treat men to a breakfast in bed or a delicious dinner, buy them flowers and gifts, and in February, men reciprocate.

Although Women’s Day isn’t a particularly huge holiday, there is a specific tradition associated with it. Some time before the holiday, bakers from all over the country participate in the Cake of the Year contest held by the National Association of Baker Masters. The sales of the winning cake are launched on Women’s Day in all association member bakeries.

It should be noted that Iceland is one of the world’s leaders in gender equality. For example, it was the first country to elect a female president in 1980. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was subsequently reelected three more times and served for 16 years total before deciding not to run for the fifth term.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report, Iceland has the smallest overall gender gap in four key areas: health, education, economy and politics. The country also has the highest proportion of women in the labor market in the world. So the existence of both Men’s Day and Women’s Day in Iceland is not a mere formality, but another confirmation that men and women enjoy equal respect here.

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Other Observances

Country

Iceland

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Women’s Day in Iceland, holidays in Iceland, festivals in Iceland, gender equality in Iceland