Sunday, 24 February 2019


The date of observance and tone having shifted significantly since the Icelandic calendar was first codified and presently equivalent to Valentine’s Day, Woman’s Day has settled on this day—having beforehand been held on the first day of the month of Góa—which could fall anywhere between the eighteenth and the twenty-fifth of February, due to the strictly solar character of the traditional way of keeping track of the passage of time which employed interstitial weeks rather than leap days every few years to correct for seasonal creep. The extra week called sumarauki was always inserted into the summer and the rather ingenious and tidy system developed in the 900s had twelve months of thirty days each (three hundred and sixty plus four epagomenal ones) and the months always began on the same day of the week. The old Icelandic year was divided between “short days” (see also here and here)—Skammdegi—that described the length of daylight during the winter and its corollary “nightless days”—Náttleysi. The dark and harsh first half of the year consisted of:

  • mid October – mid November: Gormánuður, Gór’s month which marked the time to harvest and slaughter livestock for the winter
  • mid November – mid December: Ýlir, Yuletide 
  • mid December – mid January: Mörsugur, feasting time 
  • mid January – mid February: Þorri, dead of Winter 
  • mid February to mid March: Góa 
  • mid March to mid April: Einmánuður, the month of transition
Summer is welcomed with Sumardagurinn fyrsti and the six months of unending days, many named after now forgotten goddesses—making an even stronger argument to honour the women in your lives all year around, follow with:
  • mid April – mid May: Harpa, the beginning of Summer 
  • mid May – mid June: Skerpia 
  • mid June – mid July: Sólmánuður, the sunny month 
  • mid July – mid August: Heyannir, time to dry the hay for the livestock 
  • mid August – mid September: Tvímánuður, for some reason, the second month 
  • mid September – mid October: Haustmánuður, autumn sets in