In Iceland, there’s a tradition that on the first day of Góa — February 20th this year — the husband/man of the household is to serve coffee and/or flowers in bed to his wife. The tradition reportedly comes from the 19th century.
According to legend, the month of Góa is named after King Þorri’s daughter, Gói. During the beginning of the previous month at the sacrificial feast named after himself, she went missing. He spent all month looking for her and at the beginning of the next month held another sacrifice in the hopes of finding what had happened to her. That feast came to be known as Gói’s sacrifice, and the month named after her.
Other traditions have that a person’s age was told by how many Góas they had survived, and to “survive þorri and góa” was to get over the hump of winter. Though surviving the winters has certainly become easier for a lot of us, the weather for today (between 2 – 23 deg F) and tomorrow (between 5 – 16 deg F) is certainly fitting for the reputation the two months held with the early Norse folks.
In Old Norse, the name of the day would be kvenna-dagr (at least I would write it that way). I’m pretty certain that the holiday did not originate in early medieval times, however, since there’s not much likelihood — as far as I know — of early Norse having access to coffee. Not to say that they woudn’t have celebrated it in some way. Women played an important part in everyone’s daily lives, and everyone knew it. Frigga was said to be the representative of the wife and manager of households. She was as wise as her husband Odin, but saved her advice for him alone. The Havamal warns men to never trust another’s wife with secrets or as a confidant. She will not be as faithful to you as to her husband. The secret of the 18th rune mentioned in the Havamal is also said to be reserved for one’s own wife.
So husbands, tomorrow is about your wife whether you’re Scandinavian or not. If it’s cold where you are, bring your wife or girlfriend a cup of coffee and some flowers tomorrow morning. If it’s hot where you are, why not bring her an iced coffee? They are our partners in life and labor, passion and progress. Our confidants and advisors. Here’s to our wives! Heilendi várir konunum!