Despite its rising popularity in recent years, Valentine’s Day isn’t traditionally celebrated in Iceland. That doesn’t mean we don’t have special days dedicated to our loved ones, in fact, we have two instead of one! Konudagur and Bóndadagur (woman’s day and husband’s day) are Iceland’s way of celebrating love but they differ from Valentine’s Day in one crucial way: instead of celebrating the love between two individuals, they focus on the individuals in love.
Konudagur, in particular, is becoming increasingly competitive with Valentine’s day, since it usually lands within a week or two of it on the calendar. Now, you should already have celebrated husband’s day back in January but you still have a chance to switch your romantic celebrations to the Sunday, February 23 (2020) this year. Here are just some of the reasons Konudagur (and Bóndadagur) is far superior to Valentine’s day:
You get your day – without compromise!
Like I mentioned above, Bóndadagur and Konudagur focus on the individual instead of the couple. That means no compromise, you get to spend the day you want to do! The food, the activities, everything should be geared towards your preferences. Unless you’re a gay couple, that is, in which case you’re still going to have to share (We haven’t quite worked that one out yet).
There are two days of celebrations instead of one!
Need I say more? Valentine’s day makes you share a holiday, with Konudagur you get one for yourself. You wouldn’t like to share your birthday (unless you’re a twin), so why share your appreciation day?
No celebrating in the middle of the week!
Since Valentine’s day has a specific date, you might end up having to celebrate it after work on a Tuesday and have to cut the celebrations short if you have to get up early the next day. Bóndadagur is always on a Friday and Konudagur is always on a Sunday, giving you plenty of time to celebrate.
Come for the chocolate and flowers, stay for the worshipping of ancient weather deities!
Konudagur and bóndadagur are linked to the old Norse calendar. Bóndadagur marks the beginning of Þorri and Konudagur is the first day of Góa. These were the harshest winter months, so to try to get on their good side, the woman of the house would go outside on Bóndadagur and greet Þorri warmly, inviting him in. The men were supposed to do the same on Konudagur. This was supposed to ensure their mercy and prevent foul weather that would prolong winter. This has nothing to do with modern celebrations of Konudagur, it just means that Konudagur has a more interesting origin story than Valentine’s Day.
Ideas for Konudagur
If you happen to be visiting Iceland during Konudagur, why not treat the women you love to a romantic (mostly) experience. Here are a few suggestions.
OMNOM is Iceland’s premier artisan chocolate maker. The company offers guided tours allowing visitors to peek behind the scenes for a taste (get it?) of the magical world of chocolate. At OMNOM’s factory in Reykjavík, you’ll be introduced to the craft of making chocolate from the cocoa pod all the way to a chocolate bar. Tasting of all our bars is, of course, part of the tour.
The “cook and dine” tour by Salt Eldhús allows travellers to immerse themselves in Icelandic cuisine and culture via a hands-on, highly interactive four-hour cooking class in Reykjavik. Under the supervision of a local chef, prepare and plate a three-course gourmet meal from fresh, local ingredients and wash it all down with a glass of wine. Als, during the tasting session, sample local specialities such as homemade Icelandic rye bread, dung smoked Arctic char, dried Atlantic wolffish, smoked free-roaming lamb and selected local beer.
Although, perhaps, not the most romantic of activities, Icelandic Sagas – The Greatest hits is a 75-minute theatrical comedy roller coaster ride through Iceland’s literary heritage. Presented by two Icelandic actors, at the Harpa Music and Conference Hall, Icelandic Sagas are the 40 true stories of the first settlers of Iceland. Step into the world Hallgerda Long-Pants, Gunnlaug Serpent Tongue, Killer-Glum, Harald with the great hair-do, and more.
An ice bar and ice art gallery, Magic Ice Reykjavík is located on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík. The permanent exhibition at Magic Ice is constructed of crystal clear ice (even the glasses at the bar). The exhibition consists of dramatically-lit sculptures and installations with colourful LED lighting to further enhance the experience. Put on a coat, have some drinks, enjoy the sights.