Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

It’s always nice to be the first in something. For instance, I was the first person in my house this morning to have some toast. A great feeling.

Similarly accomplished in her life has been Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the former President of Iceland. She can count among her accomplishments being the world’s first elected female head of state, and according to Wikipedia, being the first single woman to adopt a child in her home country.

But at least I beat her to the toast.

Vigdis with hat

The Iceland President in a marvelous hat.

Finnbogadóttir was born on a toasty spring day in 1930 in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. Her father Finnbogi Rútur Þorvaldsson (thank you copy-paste) taught at the University of Iceland and her mother Sigríður Eiríksdóttir was a nurse and the head of the local nurse’s association. You could say she came from strong leadership stock. And I think I will.

She came from strong leadership stock.


After graduating high school, young Vigdís headed to Paris to study French Literature. Once she had her BA, she further studied History of Theater in Copenhagen, becoming a rare liberal arts graduate in the modern world to not later work exclusively as a barista.

In the 60s and 70s Finnbogadóttir practiced political activism, protesting against the U.S. military presence in the country,  and became a central figure in the Icelandic theater scene as Artistic Director at the Reykjavik Theatre Company.

In 1980, with the women’s movement in Iceland having gained significant steam Vigdís reluctantly agreed to run for President, and ended up narrowly defeating her three male rivals. Her popularity soared in office, and she was re-elected three more times until she decided to step down at the end of her term in 1996. Imagine that, a politician voluntarily leaving office once they feel they’ve contributed what they can to give way to the next guy.

Now in a homely sweater in a pleasing "yay, everyone adores me" mode.

Now in a homely sweater in a pleasing “yay, everyone adores me” mode.

The respect she has garnered in international circles can be easily seen in the impressive collection of animal themed honors bestowed upon her by various countries. These include :

  • Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Falcon (Iceland)
  • Knight of the Order of the Elephant (Denmark)
  • Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of St. Olav (Norway)
  • Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim with collar (Sweden)
  • Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the White Rose (Finland)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (Britain)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands)

I never realized collars were held in such high esteem by various stately honor granters, but there it is. Extra credit to the British for squeezing a relaxing bath in there.




About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names.
This entry was posted in funny names in education, humor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

  1. wdydfae says:

    For what it’s worth, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is culturally equivalent to the name Janet Wilson.

    Not really! I just made that up!

    Hey, is the “Finn” in Finnbogadóttir like a Finn “Finn,” or just a “Finn”?

  2. marksackler says:

    Sorry, Arto. Wrong. You didn’t beat her to the toast–unless she slept really late and you had breakfast at 12:01 AM PDT and/or she slept until noon today. Iceland is like, 7 time zones earlier than California.

  3. Dave says:

    Mmm…. collars and baths! I think I chose the wrong career path!

    • wdydfae says:

      Another incipient rap here . . .

      Well, I want me some collars and I want me some baths
      I can’t have um, think I chose the wrong career path

      • Dave says:

        These raps are awesome, so thank you Diddy
        You’re a master and make me want to write a… ditty?

        I’ve got nothing… but for fairness, I’m writing this from a lecture hall right now 🙂

    • Arto says:

      Never too late to take over a theatre in Oslo and become the King.

  4. kerbey says:

    She looks very regal and important in that first shot, with the look that says she is tolerating the press, but borderline to the face one makes when one smells what another has dealt. However, I will not dis the Vigdis and her multiple collars, of which none are blue. Blue bloods never wear blue collars, do they? Not that she’s blue blood, I’m just thinking out loud, like Ed Sheeran. I also read that at the age of 41, she adopted a daughter, being the first single woman who was allowed to adopt a daughter. Does that make her daughter a Finnbogadottirdottir?

    • Arto says:

      Good question on the name. If the family name comes from the father, and there ain’t one, can you hear the name fall in the woods?

      I will approve your compounding of the dottirs while we wait for the official answer.

      Never did pay attention to collar color, but I’ll trust your intuition on that.

  5. ksbeth says:

    when you can say vf’s name clearly 3 times, you are cut off.

  6. In Iceland, they have to wrap themselves in long, substantial names to keep warm.

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