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St. Olav’s Day 2020: History and Significance of the day after Saint Olav’s Eve

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St. Olav’s Day is a public holiday in the Faroe Islands on July 29th. Known as Ólavsøka, it is the National Day of the Faroe Islands and remembers King Olav the Second who carried Christianity to the Islands. Saint Olav’s Eve (Ólavsøkuaftan) is held on July 28th and is a public holiday toward the evening for a great many people.

St. Olav’s Day History

Olaf II Haraldsson (Ólavur Halgi in Faroese) was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. Olaf died on July 29th, 1030 in the fight at Stiklastað in Norway. There are numerous adventures about miracles performed by Olav and within a year of his demise, he had been sanctified as a saint.

Soon after, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim was worked over his burial site. His sainthood carried numerous pioneers to the Cathedral and supported the broad adoption of the Christian religion across Norway, which the Faroe Islands were part of during the middle ages.

St. Olav became the patron saint of Norway and his feast day was a significant celebration in Norway up until the reformation. Even though the anniversary of his death is as yet set apart in Norway by religious services, it is in the Faroe Islands where the festivals stay a well-known summer celebration.

The “Saint Olav” of Saint Olav’s Day refers to King Olav II of Norway. He reigned in the mid-1000’s and was the principal leader who helped “Christianise” Viking-era Norway.

After King Olav was killed in the field of fight, defending Norway against an attacking Danish armed force, he was immediately consecrated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. This was not accomplished for his prowess in war, in any case, but since of his spreading of the Christian religion in Norway. For that, truth be told, he was named “Patron Saint of Norway”.

On 28 July, celebrations start on Saint Olav’s Eve, and they can proceed for a few days. A parade happens on 29 July in Torshavn, alongside numerous different events for the day. This is additionally the day when the Faroe Islands parliament officially starts its next session after the summer holidays.

Nearby Saint Olav’s Day, there will be people singing and dancing, shows, and other social and patriotic events. Saint Olav’s Day is the feature of the summer in the very cold land of Faroe Islands, and individuals anticipate it throughout the entire year. It’s praised with more fervor in the Faroe Islands than even in Norway.

St. Olav’s Day is generally celebrated in the Faroe Islands. Even though the archipelago is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, it was part of Norway for a long time, and the Faroese consider Olaf their ruler, as well. In the Faroe Islands, St. Olav’s Day is known as Ólavsøka (“Saint Olav’s Wake”). It is the day when the Faroese Parliament, the Løgting, opens its session.

How is St. Olav’s Day Celebrated?

Ólavsøka signifies ‘Saint Olav’s Wake’ and is a two-day celebration that starts on the night of July 28th. Celebrations incorporate parades, games, music, speeches, some drinking, and dancing.

To carry some formality to the proceedings, for 900 years, Ólavsøka has denoted the annual opening of the Faroese parliament (Løgtingið) after the summer holidays.

At the opening of Parliament, the Prime Minister (Løgmaður) will make his annual speech to the Parliament and the Faroese Nation.

Ólavsøka closes at midnight on July 29th when groups accumulate to sing Faroese people songs and play out the traditional Faroese chain dance.

The celebrations commonly start on Saint Olav’s Eve (July 28). The opening ceremony remembers a parade in downtown Tórshavn. The parade highlights city council individuals, local athletes, horsemen, and a brass band. The parade is followed by the traditional boat race.

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