Treat your man to some lovely food or flowers because today is Bóndadagurinn, a curious Icelandic holiday that dates back to the old Viking calendar.

Bóndadagurinn marks the beginning of Þorri, which is the fourth month of winter according to the old Icelandic calendar months. It is preceded by the month Mörsugur and followed by Góa. Bóndadagur is always on a Friday somewhere from the 19th till the 25th of January.


See also: The Viking Month of Thorri


Snow

The month of Þorri tends to be a snow-heavy month. Photo by Arnar Freyr Tómasson.

The word Bóndadagurinn is comprised of two words: Bóndi, which can mean either husband or farmer, here used to refer to the master of the house. Today, the term is often used about one’s male spouse, be it your husband, fiancé or boyfriend. Dagurinn simply means ‘the day’.

A peculiar Bóndadagur tradition goes something like this: The man of the house should awake before all others. He should go outside wearing nothing but his shirt and one leg of his trousers and hop on one leg around the house, inviting the mid-winter month in.

The only written source for this silly tradition is in Jón Árnason’s collection of Icelandic folklore published from 1954-1961. 


See also: Folklore in Iceland


It could be that a practical joker convinced Jón Árnason to record this tradition.  If so, that’s a great prank. We’re not sure if anyone actually upholds the tradition. Please do let us know if you saw a half-naked man hopping around his house this morning!

An older – perhaps more reliable – source from 1728 says that the Bóndadagur tradition is for the woman of the house to step out the night before and invite Þorri into the home like a welcomed guest. The wife would also prepare good food on the first day of this harshest winter month.

Flowers

Flowers are a sweet Bondadags gift. Photo: Public Domain Pictures, Johnny Dod.

In modern day Iceland, it’s a tradition for wives to pamper their husbands on Bóndadagurinn. Women treat their significant others to good food and drink.

In later (more capitalistic) years women also shower their partners with gifts and flowers. The favour is then returned on Konudagurinn, which marks the start of the next month, Góa. A sort of Icelandic double-Valentine’s-day tradition.