Name of Dame Must be Ragnheiður

Have you ever heard of an association where the sole requirement for becoming a member is to be named Ragnheiður? Well, now you have. The Ragnheiður Association has grown, year by year, since its foundation on November 24, 2007. It was founded by three women, including Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, former minister of industry and commerce, who at the time was an MP for the Independence Party.

The idea for the association was sparked when she was on a trip abroad, with dozens of Icelandic women, she tells Steinþór Guðbjartsson in an interview in Morgunblaðið:

“As I was crossing a street, someone shouted ‘Ragnheiður!’ at which three of us turned around, [all of us namesakes], answering, ‘Yes.’” They subsequently joked they’d have to found an association of women called Ragnheiður, which they ended up doing. “We called our namesakes, ones we knew and others we didn’t know. Their curiosity exceeded their prejudice and drove them to show up at a party at my home. There was no activity during the financial crisis [in 2008 and thereafter], but we’ve been meeting regularly since 2013.”

The goal of the association is to make Ragnheiður flourish and thrive and to increase their numbers. Right now, members count 78 on Facebook, but according to Statistics Iceland, there are 1,302 women whose first name is Ragnheiður and 123 whose middle name is Ragnheiður. 

Therefore, the association has plenty of room to grow. Ragnheiður points out progress made since the foundation of the association, such as the fact that an opera by the name of Ragnheiður was staged in 2014. You can watch an excerpt from it here:

All members must have Ragnheiður as a first name. There are, however, two exceptions, both of them completely arbitrary. One of them is singer Hera Björk, who was allowed to join for wishing her name were Ragnheiður. The other one is Ragna Árnadóttir, who was given admission only because she claimed she was named after her grandmother Ragna, who was named after her grandmother Ragna, who was named after her grandmother Ragna, who was named after her grandmother Ragnheiður.

Having Ragnheiður as a middle name does not qualify one for membership – a rule, which reportedly has caused major resentment. Ragnheiður points out that rules allow you to change your name once in the National Register.

This is the first time the existence of the association has been revealed, so it is no longer a secret society. Ragnheiður asserts that in general, Ragnheiður is a very fun person to be with. The members meet every year.

See a related article on Icelandic names here.

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